Hospice Cleveland County in North Carolina is merging with Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region. The combined company will serve 23 counties throughout North Carolina and South Carolina. In conjunction with the merger, the hospices are creating a philanthropic foundation that will support area nonprofits, educational institutions and work by government agencies.
Hospice Cleveland County will operate as a separate but affiliated subsidiary and will not rebrand or change staff or leadership. Post merger, the company will serve 2,600 patients daily and operate six hospice houses. Peter Brunnick, CEO of Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region, will lead the combined organization.
“The merger is the product of a long-standing relationship between the two organizations. For many years we have collaborated and shared resources,” Brunnick told Hospice News. “A compelling reason to merge was that it was very much of a synergistic relationship where geography and the dominant health care system in counties is our service areas was consistent.”
The merger will support the hospices’ ability to remain competitive in a fragmented marketplace that is seeing increasing consolidation. Hospices in general can leverage larger geographic footprints in negotiations with payers in value-based payment models such as Medicare Advantage. The two companies have collaborated on joint initiatives in the past.
Hospice utilization among Medicare decedents in South Carolina topped 50.8% in 2018, exceeding the national average by a fraction of a percent, according to the National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), which makes it 21st in the nation.
Utilization in South Carolina that year was 49.2% among Medicare decedents, NHPCO reported.
This is the third hospice merger in the region in 2019 and 2020 involving North Carolina companies, including the joining of Hospice of Randolph County and Hospice of the Piedmont and the combination of Hospice and Palliative Care of Alamance-Caswell and Hospice and Palliative Care of Greensboro.
“This is great news for Cleveland County and the Charlotte region as we combine two community-based, nonprofit hospice providers committed to delivering the best possible care for patients – regardless of their ability to pay or the complexity of their illnesses,” said Myra McGinnis, who will continue as president of Hospice Cleveland County. “Unlike the for-profit providers that are increasingly entering this region, our organizations have been here for decades, so we know our communities, our patients and our health care providers.”