Hospice providers Agape Care and Embrace Hospice House have entered into agreements with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) to use their inpatient facilities as medical needs shelters during weather emergencies or disasters.
During a catastrophic event that requires residents to evacuate their homes, these providers’ inpatient facilities would temporarily house people who need medical aid but do not require hospitalization. These patients may need nursing care, cold storage for medication, hospital beds or backup electricity for medical devices.
“Over the last several years, the levels of need have increased in our shelters with more people needing medical beds, and other additional assistance,” said Brannon Traxler, DHEC’s public health director. “Partnering with these in-patient hospice facilities helps us ensure all South Carolinians receive the care they need during a situation that requires evacuation to a shelter location.”
Discussions of these partnerships began in 2019 between the state and hospice industry associations, including the South Carolina Home Care and Hospice Association and The Carolinas Center for Hospice and End of Life Care. DHEC also consulted the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for recommendations and approval.
Agape Care Group and Embrace Hospice House operate a total of five inpatient locations, at least one in each of four DHEC regions. When necessary during a disaster, the agency would arrange for transportation to bring patients to those facilities.
Embrace is the only hospice house facility to serve Horry and Georgetown Counties of South Carolina. The hospice house provides a location for patients to receive care when their symptoms become too difficult to manage in the home or when their residence is otherwise unsuitable. While the facility has a clinical staff, Embrace contracts with several area hospice providers that care for patients in their location.
Agape is a portfolio company of the Chicago-based private equity firm The Vistria Group. The company’s more than 900 employees care for 1,500 patients annually in South Carolina and now Georgia, providing hospice and palliative care. The company is on the verge of multi-state expansion. Agape moved into Georgia in March with a de novo location. The company plans to continue its growth primarily through acquisitions, targeting organizations in the southeastern United States.
“During emergency situations, collaborations like these are what help make sure all South Carolinians are cared for and kept safe,” Traxler said. “We are grateful to these providers who are willing to open their doors to others in a time of need.”