VITAS Healthcare, a subsidiary of Chemed Corp. (NYSE: CHE), has opened its first hospice house in Orange County, California, currently the only such facility in that region.
The inpatient facility began accepting referrals on Monday, June 26, and the company expects it to serve more than 300 seriously ill patients annually.
“There has been a strong community need to offer patients access to an inpatient level of care in which the hospice provider is not dependent on a hospital or skilled nursing facility when accepting patients,” Jennifer Melad, VITAS senior general manager, told Hospice News. “During COVID, the need became more apparent as patients did not have the option to have families with them during their final hours.”
Nearly 500,000 seniors live in Orange County, close to 16% of the total population. By 2025, their numbers will nearly double, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
More patients elect hospice in California than in any other state. Close to 156,000 people enrolled in the benefit during 2021, according to the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Florida followed close behind with more than 154,000.
The new facility offers a home-like setting, with six private bedrooms. The design allows families to be with their loved ones during their final hours, according to Melad. Each patient room has a flat-screen TV and can accommodate an overnight guest. The house also has a shared family room, kitchen and outdoor area, as well as laundry facilities.
The new facility follows another that VITAS opened in Broward County Florida, in March.
The company operates 50 hospice programs across 14 states and in the District of Columbia, with 27 inpatient hospice units nationwide. Its more than 9,743 staff provide hospice care to an average 17,830 patients per day as the Q1 2023.
The nation’s largest hospice provider by market share earned $310 million in net service revenue during Q1, up 3.8% year-over-year.
“VITAS has valued partnerships and collaborations throughout the [Orange County] community that assisted in our demonstration for need in the community,” Melad said. “The hospice house is a traditional inpatient unit, providing patients with a higher level of care. Because the unit is situated in a residential neighborhood and the original house was completely renovated, we wanted to maintain the home-like environment in our presentation of the unit.”