The Hospice Provider You Choose Matters

When faced with a life-limiting illness personally or in our families, the discussion often turns to hospice care if the goal of the care is to focus on comfort and quality of life, treating symptoms as they arise, and spending quality time with family and friends. At this point in the discussion though, our minds are racing. We are justifiably concerned about the care that our loved one will receive and want to make sure that their comfort is the primary goal. We do not walk this path often in life and need the guidance of those called to serve and provide for patients needing hospice care. But who do you reach out to for information and care? It would be completely normal to assume that any hospice provider you call would provide the same high quality end of life care. Hospice is seen as a large single group of providers, when in actuality, hospice care is provided by numerous independent organizations, some of whom have differing motivations.

In late July of 2022, Kaiser Health News published an article entitled “Hospices Have Become Big Business for Private Equity Firms, Raising Concerns About End-of-Life Care.” This article discusses the growing trend across the nation, (seen locally in the Crossroads) of For-Profit entities getting into hospice “driven to by the motive of a quick profit” according to Dr. Joan Teno at Brown University School of Public Health. The article also discusses the ways in which For-Profit hospices limit spending in order to “boost their bottom lines”, such as hiring fewer employees with higher case loads, limiting time spent with each patient and family, or by shifting care to lower skilled caregivers. This has translated into For-Profit hospice margins being 3 times larger than their Not-For-Profit counterparts as of 2019.

Not-For-Profit hospices, on the other hand, focus their care on the dying patient as well as their family while admitting sicker and more complicated patients. For-Profit hospices seek out those patients who are likely to live longer, thus increasing their profits and shy away proportionally from those with higher needs and who may die sooner, such as cancer patients. Couple this with high rates of complaints and deficiencies in For-Profit hospices, it makes sense why families should seek out a Not-For-Profit hospice to be there for their loved ones.

Hospice of South Texas has been the Crossroads only Not-For-Profit community owned hospice since 1984. Serving more than 700 patients per year across the 12 county service area, Hospice of South Texas’ focus on quality is unsurpassed. Hospice of South Texas is governed by a 100% volunteer Board of Directors that represents the many communities we serve, seeking to always provide high quality care to all in the community in need of end of life care, regardless of their ability to pay. We identified the need to serve those near the end of life who are too ill or symptomatic to leave the hospital. This led to building our free-standing, state-of-the-art 12 bed inpatient facility, The Dornburg Center of Compassion, that accepted its first patient in August of 2017. The Dornburg Center was designed with patient care and family needs in mind, providing short-term medical care for symptom management by round-the-clock medical experts.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Hospice of South Texas has continued to pursue this mission by always striving to improve quality of care. We have implemented a systematic approach to every patient encounter by our team members, because we know that the experience of our patients and their families is all that matters; there is no second chance to provide the right care at the end of life.

One of our top priorities is training and educating our staff. Hospice of South Texas has completed our Talent Development Lab (TDL) where all education of HOST staff takes place, which includes a unique training environment with mock patient environments. We can also utilize the TDL to train family members who are new to the caregiving role and give them confidence in the tasks of caregiving at home.

These quality focused initiatives that give our patients and their families unsurpassed care at the end of life is due to the mission directed by our community led Board of Directors. Our focus is on spending our earnings to enhance patient care and not to improve the bottom line for share-holders. If you or your loved one is facing the end of life, who you choose to provide hospice care matters.