HopeHealth, Community VNA to Merge

Massachusetts-based Community Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) will merge with HopeHealth, headquartered in Rhode Island. The two nonprofits intend a non-cash affiliation expected to complete in January 2021. 

The two organizations provide hospice, home health and palliative care in southeastern New England. VNA will rebrand as HopeHealth Community VNA. The merging organizations have plans for future expansion of their geographic service area as they look ahead to 2021.

VNA began considering the possibility of such an affiliation a few years ago as part of its strategic planning process.

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“Our primary goals were to solidify our position in our historical service area during a time of much change and industry consolidation.Our board of directors wanted to ensure our long term success and viability while preserving our one hundred plus year old mission of being highly community focused,” VNA CEO Reynold Spadoni told Hospice News. “As we went through the process and gained a great deal of feedback from our community and those who refer their home health and hospice patients to us, it became increasingly clear that an affiliation would make the most sense.”

Discussion of a possible merger with HopeHealth began about a year ago. The organizations are geographically adjacent, which factored strongly into the decision to affiliate, as did similarities in their management styles and organizational culture.

Through the affiliation the merged organization will achieve substantial greater market penetration in each of its service lines: hospice, home health and palliative care.

“From a home health perspective, it adds significantly to our footprint. HopeHealth is primarily in Rhode Island and Community VNA is in Massachusetts, so we really now have a contiguous and adjacent service area for home health,” Diana Franchitto, president and CEO of HopeHealth, said. “From a hospice perspective, Community VNA hospice program is relatively small, and HopeHealth covers that geography. What it does is allow for greater penetration in that geography.” 

Hospice utilization is strong in Rhode Island, which saw 55% of Medicare descendants elect hospice during 2017, according to the National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization. That is the seventh highest rate in the nation. Utah leads in utilization at 59.4%, whereas the national rate is slightly more than 50%.

Massachusetts ranked 32nd in utilization in 2017 at 47.1%.

“The provision of home health and hospice care has become more regulated and more competitive in the last ten years,” said Spadoni in a video released to Community VNA staff. “As we continue to charter these unprecedented waters, we sought a partner that could expand upon the reputation for exceptional service and compassionate, highly skilled care we have built over the past 110 years. Together, Community VNA and HopeHealth will provide a complete and compelling post-acute network to include home health, hospice, and community-based and inpatient palliative care.”

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