Nashville-based HCA Healthcare Inc. (NYSE: HCA) and the University of Central Florida (UCF) recently added a new graduate fellowship in hospice and palliative care medicine to their existing repertoire of training programs.
The program will accept two fellows annually. The fellowship will launch in July 2023 at HCA Florida Osceola Hospital, the Orlando VA Medical Center and Chemed Corp. subsidiary (NYSE: CHE) VITAS Healthcare.
UCF and HCA collaborate on a range of medical education programs, including 34 residencies and fellowships that train nearly 520 physicians across Florida.
A main goal of the new fellowship is to train hospice and palliative physicians to provide more diverse and inclusive serious illness and end-of-life care, according to Dr. Diana Treu, an internist affiliated with the Orlando VA Medical Center. Treu will lead the new program.
“With our diverse training locations, fellows will have the opportunity to care for patients with a broad range of diagnoses and palliative care needs who represent every segment of our community in terms of socioeconomic and cultural background,” Treu said in a UCF announcement.
Demand for culturally diverse hospice and palliative care in Florida is growing as minority aging populations swell.
For example, Hispanic seniors 65 and older made up 13.4% of the state’s overall population in 2010, a jump from 9.9% a decade earlier, according to a report from the Florida Legislation Office of Economic and Demographic Research (EDR).
Minority groups represented 28% of Florida’s seniors in 2016, according to a report from the state’s Department of Elder Affairs. Socioeconomically, 29% of seniors statewide fell into a “low-income” category during 2016, while 30% live in rural areas, according to the Elder Affairs report.
The fellowship aims to improve the quality of care among diverse aging populations in the state, according to Treu.
“Our mission for this fellowship is to train extraordinary physicians who excel in preventing and relieving suffering while improving the quality of life of our patients,” Treu said.
Hospice utilization runs high in the Sunshine State. At a rate of 57.9%, Florida ranked fourth nationwide for hospice utilization among Medicare decedents in 2018, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization reported. Utah held the highest rate at 60.5% that year.
HCA operates 185 hospitals, surgery centers, freestanding emergency rooms, urgent care centers, and physician clinics in 20 states and the United Kingdom. The company has historically been a health system provider, but recently made inroads into the home health and hospice space.
Last July the company completed its purchase of an 80% stake in Brookdale Senior Living’s. (NYSE: BKD) health care services segment in a $400 million deal. The company later sold former Brookdale home health and hospice sites in 22 states to LHC Group (NASDAQ: LHCG). HCA retained the locations within its own service area. Financial terms were undisclosed.
Companies featured in this article:
Brookdale Senior Living, Chemed Corp., Florida Legislation Office of Economic and Demographic Research, HCA Florida Osceola Hospital, HCA Healthcare, LHC Group, National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, Orlando VA Medical Center, University of Central Florida, VITAS Healthcare