VITAS Grows Florida Footprint with 2 New Inpatient Hospice Centers

VITAS Healthcare, hospice subsidiary of Chemed Corp. (NYSE: CHEM), this week opened two inpatient facilities in Broward County, Florida. One unit is housed at the Broward Health Medical Center, the other at Sunrise Health and Rehabilitation, with VITAS expecting to care for upwards of 900 patients annually through the new centers.

The inpatient unit at Broward Health features eight rooms with amenities aimed at providing home-like comfort in a clinical care setting, including overnight accommodations for friends and family. At Sunrise, 16 private patient rooms include similar amenities, along with areas for conversation and reflection. Patients at each facility will receive care 24/7 from an interdisciplinary team of physicians, nurses, social workers, chaplains, volunteers and bereavement experts.

“We are honored to partner with the Broward Health system to offer comprehensive, compassionate care to their patients and families,” said Betty Bel, VITAS vice president of operations. “The benefit is two-fold in that patients with advanced illness have greater support to align with their goals of care, and hospital staff can rely on our specialized teams to provide a smooth transition to the nearby in-hospital inpatient unit.”


The two facilities continued expansion in Florida for Miami-headquartered VITAS. The company last year opened an inpatient unit at the AdventHealth Lake Wales Hospital campus and unveiled another at the Community Health and Rehabilitation Center, also in Florida. Other inpatient centers in the state include Broward Health North, Broward Health Coral Springs and the Florida Medical Center.

Each of the new inpatient centers feature private bathrooms, a private quiet room and shared family rooms and kitchens. The Sunset location includes an outdoor area, activities for children and specialized therapies. These include Paw Pals pet therapy visits and care specific to the unique needs of veterans approaching the end of life such as bedside salutes and Honor Flight virtual reality experiences.

VITAS has served patients in the Broward county area since 1980. The company operates 49 hospice programs across 14 states and in the District of Columbia, with 28 inpatient hospice units nationwide. More than 9,880 staff provide advanced illness care, with VITAS reporting an average daily census ticking past 17,780 patients at the close of Q4 last year.


“We are privileged to serve and support patients who require levels of care beyond routine hospice service,” said Kathleen Coronado, general manager for VITAS in Broward county. “The availability of this hospice unit helps ease the concerns of hospice patients and their families, relieving some of the burden on hospital staff and rooms, while providing the high level of compassionate care that VITAS is known for.”

A growing aging population is driving demand for hospice in the Sunshine State. Seniors 60 and older are projected to represent 32.5% of Florida’s overall population by 2030, a jump from roughly a quarter of adults 65 and older currently living in the state, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Florida in 2018 ranked third nationwide for hospice utilization at 57.9%,among Medicare decedents, according to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. Only Utah and Arizona saw higher rates at 59.4% and 59.2%, respectively.

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reported in 2019 that more than 140,700 patients utilized the Medicare Hospice Benefit statewide, with reimbursement totalling more than $1.9 billion.

Florida’s state government lit the way for hospice expansion last year. The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) initially indicated that it would approve four hospice certificates of need across seven counties during 2021, but ultimately approved nearly twice as many.

VITAS was among those awarded a certificate of need, along with Alleo Health, Hernando-Pasco Hospice Inc., Amedisys (NASDAQ: AMED), Catholic Hospice Inc., Continuum Care of Miami Dade, Affinity Care of Manatee County, among others.

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