Florida-based Cornerstone Hospice & Palliative Care is building a new inpatient hospice house near the campus of Orlando Health, a local referring hospital. The facility is intended to provide the hospice’s most acute patients and families in the community with a home-like setting at the end of life.
Cornerstone’s president and CEO Chuck Lee told Hospice News that the hospice and palliative care provider developed a great relationship with Orlando Health during the years. The hospice’s new 20,000-square-foot facility will be open to all patients, regardless of which provider had been supporting their care prior to hospice, according to Lee.
Orlando Health is a private, not-for-profit network of community and specialty hospitals based in Orlando, Florida with roughly nine local subsidiaries in various primary and specialty areas of care.
“Cornerstone has developed a great relationship with Orlando Health over the years, and their leaders supported our [certificate of need (CON)] application for the state’s authorization to build the new house,” said Lee. “We have leased space in hospitals and skilled nursing facilities over the past decade, but the demand for inpatient care beds continues to grow in Orlando.”
Hospice utilization runs high in the Sunshine State. Florida ranked fourth in the nation for utilization among Medicare decedents in 2018, according to the National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization.
The state is expected to see a jump in its aging population in the next 20 years. A 2014 report from the Florida Assisted Living Federation of America (FIFA) projected that the state’s population would increase by 4.8 million between 2010 and 2030, with adults 60 and older representing more than half of the growth. A little more than 10% of Orlando’s overall population was 65 and older in 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The facility will primarily serve patients facing serious and terminal illness who have medical needs that cannot be managed in the home. Staffed by roughly 43 full-time employees, the center will feature 20 private suites for patients and families, each with its own porch, along with family rooms, a dining room, a chapel and counseling rooms in a home-like setting.
“The house will include gathering spaces — both inside and outside — for loved ones who may need a moment away, but still want to be nearby,” said Lee. “The architect has designed the building such that the exterior matches the style of the local neighborhoods, and we will be preserving and repurposing a historic fire house on the property.”
Construction of the hospice house is expected to be completed in the summer of 2022. The entire project will cost an estimated $12 million, according to Lee, including the land, building, furniture and equipment. Cornerstone developed a capital fundraising campaign to support the project, aimed at minimizing or eliminating any long-term borrowing.
In addition to the new facility, Cornerstone has plans to continue growing its hospice operations beyond Florida and is already expanding with locations in the Atlanta metro area. As Lee told Hospice News, Cornerstone has plans to grow from there.
“As we work to fulfill our mission statement, we are looking to grow our hospice program and other post-acute service lines,” Lee told Hospice News. “On the hospice side, we will be looking at applications to additional hospice service areas as they become available through the certificate of need process.”