VITAS Healthcare, a hospice subsidiary of Chemed Corp. (NYSE: CHE), has received two certificates of need in Florida, signaling that the company is expanding its operations across a region known as the Treasure Coast. The Miami-based hospice provider will also build a new 16-bed freestanding inpatient facility in southwest Miami-Dade County.
In addition to hospice care the new locations will provide end-of-life education and support for area residents, veteran’s programs, and engage in clinical research of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
“VITAS Healthcare currently provides hospice services in the northern, western and southern areas surrounding the Treasure Coast,” a VITAS spokesperson told Hospice News. “When the certificate of need process [CON] was opened in Florida’s sub-district 9B, it allowed VITAS to apply for the CON to expand its services and resources to an underserved community that bordered counties where we already provide hospice care and services.”
The company plans to offer programs through their new locations to support the area’s homeless population, those who lack adequate food or access to health care.
The homelessness rate in the region, designated sub-district 9B by the state, is 2.3 per 1,000 population, topping the state average of 1.4, VITAS indicated in its CON application. Medicare hospice utilization along the Treasure Coast rests at 53%, compared to the state average of 66%, and it is particularly low among the region’s African-American population.
“Because of the Treasure Coast’s unique socioeconomic, demographic and other factors, VITAS has pledged substantial financial support to a variety of initiatives and organizations in the three covered counties, including housing vouchers and advance care planning services for residents of homeless shelters, grants to area food banks, and other health care resources for area health clinics that provide care to underserved/working insured residents,” a VITAS spokesperson said in an email. “These could include health education programs, health screening services, specialized learning materials, and resources for end-of-life care planning and advance directives.”
In conjunction with the expansion, VITAS announced a series of grants to support the education of medical students, nurses, aides and other staff seeking to work in hospice, and has pledged to provide continuing education to health care professionals along the Treasure Coast.