Letter: San Juan Hospital District Says Reject Hospice Sale
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.
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