Hospice of the Red River Valley, which provides care in Minnesota and North Dakota, is taking over the hospice operations of the Altru Health System. The transition will add 4,000 square miles to the hospice’s footprint, with much of the territory in rural areas.
The organization’s service area will total nearly 43,000 square miles, Bonnie Oelschlager marketing & communications manager for Hospice of the Red River Valley, told Hospice News.
“Hospice of the Red River Valley and Altru share a common footprint in some areas of our geography. With Altru’s transition of hospice services, Hospice of the Red River Valley’s will expand to match the full geography of Altru Health System,” Oelschlager said. “We are honored that Altru has placed its trust in Hospice of the Red River Valley because of our shared values, our reputation and quality scores.”
While the two organizations did not confirm monetary details to Hospice News, the North Dakota newspaper the Grand Forks Herald reported that the transfer of operations was not a financial transaction.
The transition will add approximately 40 patients to the hospice’s organization-wide average daily census, which is currently about 400.
Altru pursued the transfer due to plans to refocus its post-acute business on home health. The health system’s hospice staff will have the option of applying to positions at Hospice of the Red River Valley or to remain at Altru.
“This is part of Altru’s strategic intent to be a regional integrator of care, ensuring our residents have access to the best care possible by partnering with organizations with aligned values and a history of excellent care,” Kenneth Harvey, communications specialist for Altru, told Hospice News in an email. “At Altru, we’re re-focusing our resources on our home health services, which are a crucial component of our post-acute care strategy. The delivery model of this care is changing, with more care received at home and reduced hospital stays. A focus on home care supports this shift to meet our patients’ needs. We are confident that the Hospice care in our region is in great hands with Hospice of the Red River Valley.“
Minnesota had the 11th highest rate of hospice utilization among the states for 2018, reaching 53.5% of Medicare decedents, according to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. Utilization in North Dakota was 31% that year. Utah has the highest rate at 60.5%.
“Our patients are our focus. To ensure our staff are prepared to provide the excellent care people deserve and expect, we are working closely with Altru to plan smooth transitions. Our local care team in Grand Forks and the surrounding areas have the full support of our organization,” Oelschlager said. “With this transition at the forefront, we have strategically hired staff and have also been able to plan and shift staff accordingly. This has been a coordinated effort between our clinical care team, clinical leadership, human resources, information technology and community relations departments.”