Community Hospice & Palliative Care Setting Sights on Florida, Georgia Expansion

Florida-based Community Hospice & Palliative Care recently opened a new location in its home state that will serve as an office for interdisciplinary staff and a community center.

The new center is a key part of the hospice and palliative care provider’s overall strategic growth plans to improve access among underserved populations, according to Community CEO Phillip Ward.

Located on Dunn Avenue in northern Jacksonville, Florida, the center’s location was a significant consideration in bridging gaps to end-of-life and grief support in the community, he said. One aim of launching the center is to improve care collaboration and access among African Americans in the community, according to Ward.


“A bigger issue was looking at the Duval County’s African American community and seeing a death service ratio that did not match the state average, and wanting to see this trickle closer to true, equitable access,” Ward told Hospice News. “We wanted to ensure a convenient location for individuals to meet. For them to have access, visibility is important. Increasing our visibility is part of a very strong signal of support for the community.”

Ribbon cutting ceremony at Community Hospice & Palliative Care Community Hospice & Palliative Care
Community Hospice & Palliative Care: COO Kenny Stevenson; Board Member Sen. Audrey Gibson (D-Fla.); Director of Access Jayla Barnes; and Director of Medical Operations Dr. Reuben Smith. Photo courtesy of Community Hospice & Palliative Care.

The geographic area is not only a vast region to cover, but it is also home to many patients and families from historically underserved communities in growing need of end-of-life support, Ward said.

The center is located in Duval County, Florida, an area in which African Americans make up nearly one-third (31.1%) of the population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Seniors 65 and older represent 15.4% of the county’s population, the U.S. Census Bureau reported.


The hospice’s new 5,000 square-foot office includes areas for weekly interdisciplinary team meetings and offices for managing staff. The space is also utilized for grief support services and volunteer training and coordination activities. Community groups are also able to hold meetings and events in a conference room that seats roughly 35 individuals.

Faith and various local community organizations can hold regular meetings at the location. The community space can also be used for theater seating, educational presentations and community outreach sessions, Ward said.

“This office is located in the heart of a growing community in Jacksonville, which is a very large geographic area,” Ward said. “A main issue to address was looking at the demographics of the area’s population and mapping out the drive times to patients alongside assessing the impact on operational costs. We have multiple care teams broken into about 80-120 patients, so they are doing care coordination and case management out of this office. We also have a number of community service groups that can use the space.”

Community Hospice & Palliative Care serves adult and pediatric patients across 16 counties in Florida and two locations in Georgia. Established in 1979, the nonprofit is an affiliate of Alivia Care Inc. The hospice has more than 950 employees and 1,000 volunteers who serve roughly 1,500 patients daily in the home, at hospitals and at long-term care or assisted living facilities.

The organization’s strategic hospice sights are focused on future expansion in both Florida and Georgia, Ward indicated. Community Hospice & Palliative Care recently applied for a certificate of need to launch a de novo in Hillsborough County, Florida, and anticipates a decision by the end of June, he said.

“Our service area is now 16 counties in north Florida and an additional two programs in Brunswick and Waycross, Georgia that we affiliated with over the last three years,” Ward said.

Growing its community-based palliative care services will also be key for the organization, according to Ward. Roughly 300 patients receive this type of care within Community’s service region, a number the organization intends to grow as reimbursement models continue to evolve in value-based care, he said.

“Hospice is a growing need and continues to demonstrate importance in the larger continuum of care,” Ward told Hospice News. “We very much believe that hospice is an area for growth and expansion. Also, much of our growth in palliative has been in community-based care. We’re continuing to look for expansion opportunities [and] we’re very excited about what the future looks like.”

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