Queen City Hospice in Ohio has aggressive plans to expand its operations in its home state and beyond by growing the service area of its current locations, de novos and possible forthcoming acquisitions.
Queen City Hospice is a portfolio company of Stonehenge Partners Inc. The company is also affiliated with Capital City Hospice and Day City Hospice. Queen City and its affiliates serve close to 1,000 patients per day.
The company’s first stop in its expansion plan is Cleveland, as well as growing its service area in the Cincinnati region. Plans are also in motion to move beyond its home state.
“There’s opportunities for us. There’s synergies for us. I believe and our leadership team believes that there’s a different type of hospice care that could potentially be delivered in cities like Indianapolis and Pittsburgh, and possibly Philadelphia,” said James Vannelle, president of Queen City, Day City and Capital City Hospices. “I like to stay regional. We work really hard to establish efficiencies and be good stewards of the reimbursement Medicare dollar. I feel that when we are somewhat condensed into a region that we can leverage those relationships a little more efficiently.”
Vannelle will also serve as president of the yet-to-be-named Cleveland location.
Ohio ranks sixth in the nation for hospice utilization among Medicare decedents at 56.7% as of 2018, according to the National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization. Neighboring Pennsylvania is 27th in the United States with a utilization rate of 49.3%. Neither state requires a certificate of need.
Queen City has a three-to-five year plan to build out their footprint. The company is open to acquisitions of smaller hospices as well as opening new locations, Vannelle told Hospice News.
“There’s a lot of work to be done around getting resources and our brand of end-of-life care to more and more patients and families and in our brand of end of life care to more and more patients and families. The markets that we talk about either have a pretty good presence for hospice utilization where we would like to take and raise the standard of care but also reach to reach additional patients who for whatever reason are not getting access to hospice,” Vannelle said. “Our model and our brand are unique in that we utilize analytics to enable us to build in efficiencies that enable us to commit more resources at the bedside. The areas that we really hone in on actually free up resources and capital to invest into more care at the bedside, meaning smaller caseloads. We are very committed to that philosophy and culture.”
Lessons learned from their private equity parent company and careful stewardship helped the company withstand COVID-19 headwinds that have battered many providers, according to Vannelle. Consequently, the pandemic hasn’t slowed its growth. The hospice saw record months in terms of admissions during the pandemic and continued to grow its patient census.
“The support that we receive from private equity, not necessarily just capital. [Stonehenge] really didn’t didn’t understand hospice before they entered into the relationship with us — but to their credit — they rolled up their sleeves and they wanted to understand our model,” Vannelle explained. “It’s an interesting dynamic. I’ve learned a lot through our private equity partners as a result of picking their brains about the other companies that they’re managing and how they free up capital for expansion and how they go about utilizing the resources. We have the ability to access private equity capital if we need to, but right now the expansion is going to be self-funded from our existing operations.”