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Hospice House Campaign To Shut Down

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Christie Williams
Vice President for Philanthropy
Center for Hospice Care
860-848-5699 x237
cwilliams@hospicesect.org

Date:  January 26, 2017

Norwich, CT  (January 26, 2017) In spite of having raised nearly $6 million towards a $7.5 million Hospice House Campaign fund raising goal, Center for Hospice Care announced that it has canceled plans to build Hospice House on its campus in Norwich because unforeseen changes in healthcare conditions would have caused Hospice House to have unsustainable operating deficits.

Carol Mahier, President and CEO of Center for Hospice Care said, “We had been looking forward to announcing soon that we had achieved our campaign goal and would be breaking ground on Hospice House in June or July of this year.  But changes in the healthcare environment and the hospice world have forced us to make the difficult decision to forego the project in its current conception.”

Hospice House was envisioned as a specialized medical care facility that would have provided 24/7 hospice and palliative care to patients whose symptoms are too acute for home hospice care. In Connecticut, there are currently only two similar hospice facilities, located in Branford and Danbury.  The new Hospice House would have been the first in Eastern Connecticut.

In explaining the changing conditions that resulted in canceling plans for Hospice House, Mahier said, “Most of our hospice patients want to be cared for at home where we pride ourselves on providing them the very highest quality care.  Our Hospice House, on the other hand, was intended to care for patients who are too sick or have symptoms too acute to be cared for at home.  Hospice House was conceived to provide these special patients 24/7 hospice and palliative care – this level of care is called General Inpatient or GIP care.  As reported in a study recently released by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, there has been a significant, unforeseen 66% drop in the numbers of GIP patients across the nation.  And in our own service region of Southeast Connecticut, we have seen a 35% drop in GIP patients in the last year.”

Mahier said, “The drop in the numbers of patients who would have been cared for by Hospice House has come about for two reasons: 

  • On the positive side, we’ve been able to take advantage of improving technology and medications to provide better care to patients in their homes, enabling more patients to die in comfort and with dignity at home.
  • But at the same time there has been increasing scrutiny of GIP patients in hospice facilities by federal regulators, which has reduced admissions and length-of-stay across the country.  This has come about because a few hospices have been defrauding Medicare by admitting patients who were not appropriate for GIP level of care.”

Having learned of these changing conditions, Center for Hospice Care engaged a consulting firm to develop a new 5-year budget for operating Hospice House.  The new 5-year budget indicated that Hospice House would run substantial and unsustainable deficits – about $500,000 per year -- that would jeopardize the agency’s ability to deliver its core care and services in homes in the community. 

Mahier said, “For this reason, we have decided to forego building Hospice House.  However, although there has been a drop in the number of patients needing the GIP level of care Hospice House would have provided, there is still no access to this kind of care in Eastern Connecticut.  As a consequence, in the next 9-12 months we plan to explore other possible options for delivering GIP hospice care.  We hope we can develop a financially feasible model for providing our community with this urgently needed care.” 

It was also announced that Center for Hospice Care would contact all donors to the Hospice House Campaign to offer them three options, including to:

  • Receive a full refund of their donation
  • Maintain their donation to fund an alternative hospice facility that would provide GIP hospice care in Southeast Connecticut
  • Designate their donation to fund Center for Hospice Care’s core mission of providing care in the homes of its patients and bereavement counseling services to grieving family members

Mahier also said, “I want to thank all of the many good people from throughout our Southeastern Connecticut community who contributed so generously to the Hospice House Campaign.  We share their disappointment.  And I want to reassure them that Center for Hospice Care’s core program of providing home hospice/palliative care and bereavement counseling to anyone in the community who needs it, continues to be financially strong – as it has been for 31 years.  ”

Founded in 1985, for 31 years Center for Hospice Care – formerly known as Hospice Southeastern Connecticut -- has been the only community-based, non-profit provider of palliative and hospice care in Southeastern Connecticut, focusing its care and resources exclusively on patients and families in its regional community.  Over the years, the organization has cared for over 12,000 patients, and provided bereavement counseling services to thousands more families.   Center for Hospice Care is the region’s largest provider of palliative and hospice care and of bereavement counseling services.  The organization provides care to anyone in the community who needs it and who meets the qualifications for care, even if they are un-insured, under-insured, or unable to pay.  Its bereavement counseling services are provided free of charge to anyone in the community who needs it, even if their loved one was not cared for by Center for Hospice Care.

Posted on January 27, 2017

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