Letter: San Juan Hospital District Says Reject Hospice Sale

Posted November 8, 2020 at 4:30 am by

Mem­bers of San Juan Coun­ty Pub­lic Hos­pi­tal Dis­trict 1 have each signed this let­ter regard­ing the poten­tial sale of the Hos­pice of the North­west. One copy is being sent to Unit­ed Gen­er­al Dis­trict 304 and the oth­er to Skag­it Region­al Health.

Dear Com­mis­sion­ers,

We write to you as con­cerned cit­i­zens of San Juan Coun­ty and as com­mis­sion­ers of San Juan Coun­ty Pub­lic Hos­pi­tal Dis­trict 1. We recent­ly learned that you are con­sid­er­ing sell­ing Hos­pice of the North­west to Bris­tol Hos­pice, a for-prof­it cor­po­ra­tion. Our under­stand­ing is that for-prof­it hos­pice com­pa­nies can­not devote as much fund­ing to patient care as non-prof­it hos­pice com­pa­nies. Our com­mu­ni­ty appre­ci­ates the high-qual­i­ty ser­vices that Hos­pice of the North­west pro­vides, and we ask you to reject any offer to sell that operation.

We’d like to bring to your atten­tion the results of a recent study com­mis­sioned by Nation­al Part­ner­ship for Health­care and Hos­pice inno­va­tion (the non­prof­it voice for advanced ill­ness, hos­pice and pal­lia­tive care) and con­duct­ed by Mil­li­man, a glob­al actu­ar­i­al and con­sult­ing firm. The objec­tive of this study was: Under­stand­ing the dif­fer­ences and sim­i­lar­i­ties in finan­cial per­for­mance and qual­i­ty of care between non­prof­it and for-prof­it hos­pices serv­ing Medicare ben­e­fi­cia­ries. Here are 5 of their findings:

1) Non­prof­it hos­pices have an aggre­gate net mar­gin of 3.0% vs 19.9% for for-prof­it hospices

2) Non­prof­it hos­pices pro­vide patients with 10% more nurs­ing vis­its, 35% more social work­er vis­its, and two times as many ther­a­py vis­its vs for-prof­it hos­pices per patient day.

3) Inpa­tient stays — non­prof­it hos­pices enroll a high­er per­cent­age of patients who have inpa­tient hos­pi­tal stays imme­di­ate­ly pri­or to hos­pice admis­sions. This sug­gests they may be high-acu­ity patients with greater care needs upon hos­pice enrollment.

4) For-prof­it hos­pices report spend­ing over 300% more on adver­tis­ing costs than non­prof­it hospices.

5) For-prof­it hos­pices report spend­ing less than half what non­prof­it hos­pices report on bereave­ment services.

With this infor­ma­tion, it seems evi­dent that the San Juan Islands will have few­er hos­pice vis­its and a reduc­tion in over­all ser­vices from Hos­pice of the North­west if they were to be pur­chased by a for-prof­it company.

As Roy Graves, retired Emer­gency Depart­ment physi­cian and who sits on the ethics board for Hos­pice of the North­west stat­ed, “it’s hard to imag­ine that you can take a func­tion­ing sys­tem, take mon­ey out for investors and still pro­vide the same services.”

Our coun­ty has geo­graph­i­cal chal­lenges as our com­mu­ni­ties are fer­ry served. This is an added cost to our hos­pice and home health care ser­vices. We know that Hos­pice of the North­west is deeply com­mit­ted to San Juan Coun­ty and pro­vides excel­lent care to those fac­ing their end of life. We lost our only Skilled Nurs­ing Facil­i­ty 2 years ago, when Life Care of the San Juans closed their doors after 50 years of ser­vice to our  community.

This was a dev­as­ta­tion to those who had to move to the main­land for their care as well as their fam­i­lies who have to trav­el now to the main­land to vis­it their loved ones.

We have been grat­i­fied to learn that finan­cial con­sid­er­a­tions do not play a role in your con­sid­er­ing the hos­pice sale. We urge you to reject any offer to sell our well respect­ed and beloved Hos­pice of the North­west to Bristol.

Com­mis­sion­er Everett Clary
Com­mis­sion­er Anna Lisa Lindstrum
Com­mis­sion­er Trish Lehman
Com­mis­sion­er Gail Leschine-Seitz
Com­mis­sion­er Kyle Loring

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Categories: Health & Wellness, Letters

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