OpusCare Begins Work on New Hospice and Palliative Care Facility

OpusCare of Florida recently broke ground on what will be a hospice care facility scheduled to open in 2022. Rising demand and the need for expanded options for hospice care within the community were driving forces behind the new home-like facility.

In addition to hospice and palliative care, OpusCare offers medications, medical equipment and supplies to patients in the home or in other hospice settings throughout its locations in Florida and in three locations in Corpus Christi, Rio Grande Valley and San Antonio, Texas. Scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2022, the search for an ideal location of the new freestanding hospice unit began in September 2017, according to Ismael Roque-Velasco, M.D., president and CEO.

The decision to build the facility in Palmetto Bay, Fla., was in response to growing concern throughout the Miami-Dade County area about the lack of care settings for the terminally ill, Roque-Velasco told Hospice News.

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“The impetus was the frustration felt from our community and health care professionals regarding placement in general for the terminally ill,” said Roque-Velasco. “Many families do not have the ability to bring hospital beds and other durable medical equipment to their homes or receive visitors such as family and friends during those last days. In this new facility, all patient rooms will be private suite-like rooms with the much-needed space for family members to be in the room.”

About 1.3% of Medicare decedents received care in a hospice inpatient facility during 2017, according to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO). Roughly 0.5% received hospice care in an acute care hospital, compared to 41% in nursing facilities and almost 56% in a private residence.

OpusCare’s home state of Florida ranked fourth nationwide for hospice utilization among Medicare decedents in 2018 at 57.9%, according to NHPCO. Utah held the highest rate that year at 60.5%.

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The organization can expect gusty demographic tailwinds to advance their growth. About 16.7% of Miami-Dade County’s population of 2.7 million is 65 or older , according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This demographic accounted for 20.9% of the Sunshine State’s overall population in 2019.

“Our facility is not only hospice-specific, but it also has those additional resources with ample space for the families to visit and or stay with their family members during those final moments,” Roque-Velasco said. “This facility will help hospice patients who are either seeking placement in a hospital-like setting because they are in need of 24-hour care or for patient caregivers who are seeking temporary respite care.”

The unit will feature 13 private suites with full bathrooms for patients and their families in the Miami area, along with a meditation garden, a multi-denominational chapel, a conference room, a centralized nurse station in the middle of the patient rooms for greater supervision. Dedicated areas will be used for counseling, spiritual and bereavement services as well.

The hospice will hire approximately 30 new staff members to work in the facility, according to Roque-Velasco, ranging from physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, certified nursing assistants, maintenance and cleaning staff, bereavement counselors, social workers and chaplains, among others..

OpusCare currently subcontracts with Miami-Dade County area hospitals for inpatient hospice beds, according to Roque-Velasco, with plans to continue to do so after the facility’s opening.

“With this facility, we can continue making a difference every day. As we say, we can’t change the destination, but we can affect the journey,” Roque-Velasco told Hospice News. “There is no more significant return on investment than a satisfied family for taking care of their loved ones in a time of need. The economy of scale in having our own facility with 13 beds in one location will help our staff provide better service and lower our costs while still providing a high-quality program dedicated only to the terminally ill.”

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