published Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

Hutcheson Hospice bought by physician

A longtime North Georgia hospice service has a new owner.

Deanna Duncan bought Erlanger at Hutcheson's Hutcheson Hospice.

"This purchase allows me to carry out my mission to provide highly personalized, high-quality care and to practice my passion," she said Monday.

Duncan said she will keep the 21 full- and part-time employees of Hutcheson Hospice.

In operation since 1986, Hutcheson Hospice was the first hospice to serve Catoosa, Dade and Walker counties, executives with Erlanger at Hutcheson said.

Roger Forgey, Erlanger at Hutcheson's chief executive officer, said the sale of the hospice service will allow the hospital to focus on its core operations.

"We are taking on a partner, Hearth Hospice, whose core business is hospice," he said in a news release. "We feel that level of commitment is necessary to grow this valuable service in our community."

Duncan is waiting on state licensure to open Hearth Hospice on Rossville Avenue. In March, she filed a certificate of need with Tennessee health planners for a new hospice service. In June, the Health Services and Development Agency board approved the project by a 7-3 vote.

However, officials with Hospice of Chattanooga, where Duncan previously worked, appealed the agency's decision.

Duncan said she learned last week that Hospice of Chattanooga was abandoning its appeal.

Hearth Hospice, a nonresidential service, would serve nine Tennessee counties.

Duncan was recently appointed to the public policy committee of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. The academy is the national professional organization for physicians specializing in hospice and palliative medicine, which for more than 20 years has dedicated itself to improving the care of patients with life-threatening or serious conditions, according to its website.

Terms of the purchase were not disclosed.

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