published Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

Hospice hopes to expand

by Emily Bregel
Audio clip

Patrick Willard

PDF: Adult Care Home Act of 2009

Hospice of Chattanooga is seeking state approval to open two new locations, one in Cleveland, Tenn., and one at the Health Center at Standifer Place.

The new locations would have space both for residential hospice patients -- those who opt to receive hospice care at the facility -- and hospice-eligible patients who have been discharged by a hospital but aren't ready to go home for their hospice services, said hospice interim CEO Dr. Terry Melvin.

"The hospital system can no longer keep these patients because they are not acutely ill," she said. "Our plans for future expansion will include places for these patients to go as a transition to home, nursing home, or assisted living communities."

As required by state law, Hospice of Chattanooga submitted a notice last week to the state, expressing its intent to apply for a certificate of need, which is required to open health care facilities in Tennessee.

The certificate of need application, which Hospice of Chattanooga is expected to file with the state Monday, likely will have a public hearing in September, said Jim Christoffersen, deputy general counsel for the state Health Services and Development Agency, which regulates the health care industry in Tennessee.

The Hospice hopes to open a 16-bed residential facility in Cleveland on vacant land at 1 Pleasant Grove Road, according to a notice filed with the state. The a 16,740-square-foot facility would cost about $6.5 million, the notice states.

Another 16-bed residential hospice facility would open on the campus of the Health Center at Standifer Place on Walker Road. That 9,000-square-foot facility would cost almost $2.2 million, according to the notice.

David Boozer, administrator of daily operations for the Health Center at Standifer Place, declined to comment since the proposal still is in the preliminary stages.

Many experts are predicting a rise in health care services to care for an aging baby boomer population, but Mr. Christoffersen said he hasn't noticed any significant uptick in the number of requests for new hospice facilities.

Since the aging of the population is relatively gradual, an increase in facilities and services will likely come gradually, too, he said.

about Emily Bregel...

Health care reporter Emily Bregel has worked at the Chattanooga Times Free Press since July 2006. She previously covered banking and wrote for the Life section. Emily, a native of Baltimore, Md., earned a bachelor’s degree in American Studies from Columbia University. She received a first-place award for feature writing from the East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists’ Golden Press Card Contest for a 2009 article about a boy with a congenital heart defect. She ...

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