Two of Palm Beach County’s three hospice organizations are merging — to save money on things like pharmacy, medical equipment and general purchasing power, they say.
Hospice of Palm Beach County and Hospice by the Sea will combine to form a 10-member board under a parent company, Spectrum Health Inc., that will be renamed soon, a statement from the two non-profit organizations said. Each of the hospice programs, however, will maintain their current names, officials said.
“No reductions in workforce are planned at this time,” the statement said.
Combined, the two organizations amount to one of the area’s largest employers with more than 1,500 workers and revenue of more than $150 million. For-profit Vitas, the nation’s largest hospice provider with local operations based in Boynton Beach, will be the only licensed competitor in the county.
Both CEOs will remain with the combined organization, with Dave Fielding of Hospice of Palm Beach County serving as CEO and Paula Alderson of Hospice by the Sea taking the title of president.
It’s a big move for two groups with roots that go back three and a half decades to the late 1970s.
Hospice by the Sea, based in Boca Raton, had 629 employees and 402 volunteers in its latest available IRS Form 900 filing, for the year ended Sept. 30, 2011. It reported revenue of just under $61 million, up from $50 million a year earlier, with $2.2 million left after expenses, up from $1.9 million.
Hospice of Palm Beach County, based in West Palm Beach, reported 974 employees and 625 volunteers for the same period. Revenue climbed to $90.7 million from $89 million the prior year, with $5.7 million left after expenses, up from $3.1 million. It is affiliated with Hospice of Broward County, which opened two years ago.
The boards of both organizations approved the effort “believing it will improve access to a broader array of well-coordinated care for the patients and families who need it most,” a joint release from the organizations said.
Hospice, in recent years the fastest-growing service paid by Medicare, provides “palliative” care including pain and anxiety medication for patients diagnosed with six months or less to live who choose to give up trying to cure a terminal condition. Though many people think of hospice as a building where people go, most often it is a service provided in patients’ homes, nursing homes or assisted-living facilities.
The organizations said all health care providers “are already experiencing increased regulation and decreased reimbursement” and they will try to capitalize on “shared operational expertise and economies of scale.”
An integration plan should be fully carried out in 12 to 18 months, officials said.
The two boards will combine to form a 10 member board composed of five representatives from each organization chosen by the two current board chairs.
“By working together, these first-rate organizations can meet the varied and ever-changing needs of progressively-ill patients and their families in a seamless manner,” Hospice by the Sea Board Chair Marian Pearlman Nease said in a statement.
Hospice of Palm Beach County board chairman John Marino said, “Both boards believe this strategic partnership will make these services more efficient and more available to patients and families throughout Palm Beach and Broward counties.”
Three hospice organizations have served Palm Beach County for years. Now the two non-profits are combining, Hospice of Palm Beach County and Hospice by the Sea, forming a combined front against for-profit Vitas.
Organization 2012 2011 2010
Hospice of Palm Beach County 6,623 6,501 6,375
Hospice By the Sea 3,584 3,211 3,014
Vitas 7,333 7,215 6,943
Source: Florida Department of Elder Affairs annual reports, http://elderaffairs.state.fl.us/doea/hospice.php