Minnesota-based St. Croix Hospice has purchased Serenity Care Hospice in Harrison, Mo., for an undisclosed amount. St. Croix is a portfolio company of the Chicago-based private equity firm Vistria Group.
The transaction marks St. Croix’s entry into the Missouri market. Serenity Care Hospice serves about 100 patients daily in five Missouri counties. Executive Director Stephanie Clark will be staying on as a clinical leader.
Serenity Care will rebrand under the St. Croix name, but the timing of that transition has not yet been determined.
“Serenity Care is a high-quality program serving Missouri. It really was a natural extension from our current branches that we have in Kansas to be able to come across the Missouri River,” St. Croix CEO Heath Bartness told Hospice News. “A lot of the referral sources that we have, health systems and hospitals, are looking for that opportunity to have a one-call provider of choice. A lot of times the patients they are needing to place are on either side of the river, so being able to provide service to both sides of the river is certainly something that we were being asked to do and that we were fortunate enough to be able to commit to doing.”
St. Croix is actively growing, opening five de novos in Wisconsin, Nebraska and Minnesota during the past 12 months.
In August of last year, the company also acquired Brookfield, Wis.-based Hometown Hospice & Homecare for an undisclosed sum. Hometown consists of three hospice and home health operations in eastern Wisconsin.
St Croix’s growth strategy will continue to focus on the Midwest. The company has no plans to expand its operations beyond that region, but with more potential transactions in St. Croix’s pipeline further Midwestern expansion is likely in the works.
“Hospice is going through a cultural change where some of the smaller programs are starting to get worried about Medicare Advantage and the competitive nature that hospice is developing in some of these markets. Some don’t have the resources from a marketing perspective, from a centralization of operations perspective, to really be able to pay some of the salaries that are really required to hire the best skilled clinicians to go and take care of those fragile patients,” Bartness said. “We’re pretty bullish on the opportunities in front of us, and a lot of these programs are natural fits for us.”