Heart of Hospice Acquires Heartstrings

Charleston, S.C.-based Heart of Hospice, LLC, a subsidiary of Evening Post Industries (EPI) Group, has purchased Heartstrings Hospice for an undisclosed sum. Heartstrings will transition to the Heart of Hospice brand.

Heartstrings will expand the Heart of Hospice footprint in South Carolina. The company presently serves more than 1,500 patients from 17 locations is Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Oklahoma as well as South Carolina.

“Extending our care to South Carolina, our home state, is long overdue. Heartstrings Hospice, a well-established and well-known market leader in Columbia, is a perfect fit for the Heart of Hospice family. Their emphasis on employee satisfaction and providing quality care aligns with our vision,” Carla Davis, CEO of Heart of Hospice told Hospice News. “We look forward to expanding on the strong reputation that Heartstrings Hospice has established within their communities and to continuing the excellent service they already provide with the same great care team.”

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EPI Group, Heart of Hospice’s parent company, is a Charleston-based privately held corporation with more than 2,000 employees. In addition to hospice the company’s portfolio includes Evening Post Publishing, which operates 17 South Carolina newspapers, as well as a digital marketing firm and the Dermatology Pharmaceutical Company.

South Carolina is 16th in the nation with 51% of Medicare decedents during 2017, according to the National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization. Utah leads the nation in utilization at 59.4%.

Nearly 18% of the state’s population were age 65 or older as of July 2018, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Between 2000 and 2010 the age group 65 and older grew by 30% in the state, compared to an increase by 41% in the age group 85 and older, the South Carolina Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office reported.

“We are ready for Heart of Hospice to lead EPI forward in the health care industry and honored to support their continuous expansion and success by welcoming the Heartstrings Hospice team to our family,” Terry Hurley, president and chief operating officer at EPI, said. “This acquisition is consistent with our plan to grow our current footprint and we are thrilled with the opportunity to serve our home state.”

The mergers and acquisitions market in the hospice space has been increasingly active during the past few years and saw an uptick nationally during 2019. Fourteen hospice transactions took place during the second quarter of 2019, up from eight hospice-related acquisitions during the first quarter, according to a report from M&A advisory firm Mertz-Taggart.

The number of Q2 transactions in the space outstrips the previous year’s activity. Seven transactions occurred in the first quarter of 2018, followed by eight in the second quarter.

Heart of Hospice will continue to seek acquisitions opportunities during 2020.

“Heart of Hospice continues to seek opportunities to expand our service area and fulfill our vision throughout the Southeast, particularly in markets contiguous to our existing footprint,” Davis said. “We believe that the purchase of Heartstrings is the first step in transforming end-of-life care across the state of South Carolina and could not be more excited to welcome their great team to our family.” 

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