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Hosparus Health’s mission is to enhance the quality of life for those impacted by serious illness. As a not-for-profit hospice organization, that means we are committed to making our care available to anyone who needs us, regardless of their financial situation.

We are proud to be a community-based hospice and palliative care organization that’s focused on comfort and compassion rather than shareholders or dividends. You might be wondering, other than putting our mission above the bottom line, what does being a not-for-profit mean for our patients and families?

A Bit of Hospice History

British nurse and social worker Dame Cicely Saunders founded the modern hospice movement in 1948 out of the belief that everyone should be allowed to die with dignity. Hosparus Health was established in 1978 by a small group of volunteers who wanted to ensure all those with terminal illness get the peaceful ending they deserve. In 1983, the Medicare Hospice Benefit took effect, reimbursing hospice providers for the expert medical care, emotional and spiritual support we provide to patients and their caregivers.

Because of this daily reimbursement model, hospice became an attractive business venture for investors. There was a period of very rapid growth in the for-profit hospice sector from 2000-2016, which led to concerns about fraud and issues with delivery of care in the industry overall. It was not surprising that investigations found these problems were much more likely to occur in in newer, for-profit hospices than in longstanding, not-for-profit hospices like ours.

Here are some other key differentiators that set Hosparus Health apart as a not-for-profit hospice provider.

Community Ties

Hosparus Health has been serving patients and families for more than 40 years. We have deep roots in each of our communities across Kentucky and Indiana. As a result, we have established partnerships with local hospitals, nursing facilities and other health-related nonprofits, as well as businesses, schools, government agencies and churches.

Our board of directors includes influential community leaders, and members of our staff give back by serving on community boards and committees where they live and work. This means we truly know our communities, and they know and trust us.

Levels of Care

The Medicare hospice benefit is paid based on four levels of care, ranging from routine in-home care to inpatient. While not everyone will need all four levels, a recent report found that established, not-for-profit hospices are more likely to meet patient needs with multiple levels of care.

That’s true for Hosparus Health. We meet patients wherever they are in their disease progression. We evaluate them in real time as their condition changes, and respond by increasing their level of care as needed, in accordance with each patient’s wishes. Our Inpatient Care Center  is available for our most medically fragile patients.

Palliative Care

Currently, there is limited reimbursement available for palliative care services, and many people who could benefit can’t afford to pay for them out of pocket. We know from experience that the earlier patients with serious illness access our care, the better their quality of life. Thanks in part to our generous donors, we are able to offer a full spectrum of palliative care support, including customized care planning, symptom management and care coordination.

Specialized Programs

Not-for-profit hospices like Hosparus Health have the unique ability to navigate complex illnesses and situations, thanks to our highly-experienced staff and deep community relationships. Common challenges we face include patients with multiple diagnoses, complicated family dynamics or the absence of a caregiver.

We are also able to offer disease-specific programs like our Heart Connection® heart disease program and our NP/MD Palliative Consult to help ensure seriously ill patients and their families get the specialized care they need, sooner.

Use of Volunteers

Hospice is the only Medicare benefit that requires community volunteers to deliver a significant portion of patient care hours. Rather than simply meeting minimum requirements, not-for-profit hospices like ours have expanded the typical volunteer role by creating programs like veteran-to-veteran support, pet therapy, massage therapy, music therapy, hair care volunteers, and 11th hour volunteers, who offer comfort to patients in their final hours of life.

Grief Support

While Medicare does not reimburse for bereavement care, it’s a required and important part of the hospice benefit. Rather than cutting costs by limiting these services, not-for-profit, community-based hospices often do the opposite. They are more likely to provide robust bereavement services and to offer those services beyond their patient base.

At Hosparus Health, we offer grief support groups, individual counseling, grief programs in local schools, our Camp Evergreen family grief camp, and community events like Hope and Healing for survivors of sudden or traumatic death, among many other programs.

As you can see, Hosparus Health wears our not-for-profit status proudly. As a pioneer in patient-centered care, our focus remains on people — the patients and families we are honored to serve.

*Some information for this article was obtained from the January 2019 report, “Nonprofit Hospice Services: Where Mission and Community Meet,” developed by LeadingAge National, LeadingAge Ohio and the National Partnership for Hospice Innovation.