United Hospice is a notable not-for-profit organization that has been serving the communities of Orange and Rockland counties in the beautiful Hudson Valley region of New York for over 35 years. Their unwavering dedication to providing compassionate hospice care, emotional support, and bereavement services has profoundly impacted the lives of thousands of individuals in the area.
The concept of hospice itself has a long and meaningful history. The word “hospice” originates from the Latin term “hospitum,” which encapsulates hospitality and offers a place of rest and safety for the sick and weary. This notion traces back to 1065 when facilities were established to provide solace and care to the sick and dying as they embarked on their journey to the Holy Land.
In 1967, Dame Cicely Saunders, a British licensed nurse, revolutionized hospice care by introducing the concept of modern hospice. Her health struggles inspired her to pursue medical social work and emphasize prioritizing the patient’s well-being over the illness itself. Additionally, Dame Saunders recognized the importance of attending to the needs of the patient’s loved ones during this challenging time.
From its inception, United Hospice has remained steadfast in its commitment to delivering exceptional care, preserving dignity, and ensuring comfort for patients, their caregivers, and their loved ones. Their dedicated team of professionals goes above and beyond to enhance the overall quality of life for individuals facing serious illnesses and end-of-life diseases. They recognize that comprehensive support extends beyond addressing physical needs alone; it also encompasses emotional, mental, psychological, and spiritual well-being.
United Hospice: Redefining Care with Purpose and Passion
Founded in 1988, United Hospice Inc. is driven by a profound sense of purpose and compassion. Their mission, “Honoring Life, Giving Care, and Bringing Comfort,” exemplifies their unwavering dedication to providing exceptional care to those in need. Guided by their shared values of Excellence, Compassion, Integrity, and Teamwork, United Hospice strives to create a positive impact in the lives of their patients.
Every member of the United Hospice team plays a vital role in fulfilling the organization’s mission. With relentless commitment and a common purpose, they tirelessly work to enhance the quality of life for their patients. They firmly believe in upholding dignity and respect, recognizing and honoring an individual’s right to make their own choices, and preserving their sense of self-determination.
United Hospice prides itself on doing what is right, treating patients, families, and fellow team members with compassion and empathy. They foster an environment of trust and understanding, where everyone is cared for and treated with the same kindness they wish to receive.
Recognizing the importance of collaboration, United Hospice highly values the unique contributions of each team member. By leveraging the diverse skills and talents within the organization, they cultivate an atmosphere of unparalleled teamwork. This collaborative approach ensures that United Hospice consistently achieves successful outcomes, surpassing expectations, and making a positive difference in the lives of those they serve.
The strength of United Hospice lies in the unity that arises from its diverse team. Embracing individuals from all walks of life, they come together to provide outstanding care. This unity empowers them to deliver exceptional service and support, enriching the lives of their patients and their families.
Prominent Services and Solutions Setting the Bar Higher
United Hospice has consistently gone above and beyond to meet the diverse needs of its patients since its establishment. Their unwavering commitment to compassionate care extends beyond traditional settings, reaching patients in their homes, hospitals, nursing homes, and even group homes for the developmentally disabled. Recognizing the importance of addressing the unique requirements of different individuals, United Hospice took an unprecedented step in 2013 by establishing the Joe Raso Hospice Residence, becoming one of the few providers in New York State to offer residential hospice care.
Setting itself apart from others, United Hospice actively seeks partnerships with vendors who uphold its mission and stringent standards. This collaborative approach expands the range of services available to patients, seamlessly integrating external expertise into their care model. To ensure the highest level of expertise, United Hospice employs specialists in palliative and hospice care, mandating that all staff obtain palliative and hospice certification within three years of employment.
As a nonprofit organization, United Hospice prioritizes the well-being of its patients over financial gain. They invest significant time and effort into each patient’s care, providing comprehensive and personalized support throughout their journey. With a dedicated full-time board-certified medical director in hospice and palliative care, United Hospice has assembled a team of expert physicians who offer house calls and provide round-the-clock support through their innovative service delivery model.
Moreover, their compassionate nurses offer immediate on-call triage services during evenings, and field nurses are dispatched to patients’ homes at any time of the day, ensuring 24/7 service availability. As a result, United Hospice ranks second in the state among community-based hospices in terms of nursing minutes provided daily to patients. Their remarkable average of 28.3 minutes of nursing care per day, per United Hospice patient, significantly surpasses the national average of 13.9 minutes and the New York state average of 16.1 minutes.
United Hospice’s dedication to delivering comprehensive care is evident in their patients’ outstanding outcomes and experiences. Notably, they boast lower hospital readmission rates compared to similar organizations, demonstrating the effectiveness of their care model. Additionally, by maintaining a high frequency of patient visits, United Hospice ensures that individuals receive ongoing support, comfort, and expert guidance during the critical stages of their illness.
Commitment to Accessible Care
United Hospice is led by a team of compassionate and knowledgeable professionals who firmly believe that cost should never be a barrier to receiving the care individuals deserve. They proactively inform people about the financial coverage options available, ensuring transparency and alleviating worries. Through the support of Medicare Part A, patients can receive hospice care in the comfort of their own homes without incurring any out-of-pocket expenses. This comprehensive coverage extends to all costs associated with the patient’s terminal illness, providing security and relief by eliminating deductibles and copayments. Additionally, Medicaid and various insurance plans often cover the room and board fees for in-patient hospice care, easing the financial burden on individuals and their families.
However, United Hospice’s commitment to individuals extends beyond financial considerations. They strongly emphasize the importance of empowering individuals through knowledge and support. Recognizing that early engagement is crucial, United Hospice encourages everyone to explore their options for hospice services proactively. By fostering a culture of education and awareness, they aim to increase the utilization of hospice care throughout New York.
United Hospice also acknowledges the vital role of physicians in guiding patients toward appropriate end-of-life care. They collaborate closely with local physicians and hospitalists to ensure that hospice services are readily available to all those in need. By seamlessly integrating end-of-life care into the broader healthcare landscape, United Hospice strives to make hospice services accessible and well-integrated for individuals facing terminal illnesses.
Technological Advancements for Enhanced Patient Care
United Hospice is a forward-thinking organization that continuously strives to expand and improve the care provided to its patients. Embracing the potential of technology, they prioritize patient-centric care and work towards delivering the highest level of comfort and support.
One notable example of their commitment to excellence is their utilization of advanced data management within their electronic medical record system. This strategic implementation enhances various aspects of their operations, including quality assurance, compliance, and the overall patient experience.
Even before the pandemic, United Hospice displayed visionary leadership by upgrading its IT infrastructure. This proactive decision enabled them to seamlessly transition to remote work when necessary. Additionally, they prioritized cybersecurity measures, ensuring the organization’s protection during a geopolitical crisis.
Recognizing the value of health data management, United Hospice utilizes robust systems to support its comprehensive patient roster. This approach facilitates improved patient engagement and enhanced health outcomes and enables analysis of workflow effectiveness and clinician activity.
As the volume and significance of data within the hospice industry continue to grow, United Hospice’s focus on health data management becomes increasingly crucial. Their leadership skillfully interprets and manages this data to optimize operations and support clinicians, resulting in exceptional service delivery models that greatly benefit their patients and their families’ well-being and health.
In 2020, United Hospice upgraded its EMR platform to accommodate regulatory changes and bolster patient quality improvement measures. Moreover, they enhanced their survey data, gathering it specifically for veterans who have served the country. By focusing on these individuals’ unique requirements and needs, United Hospice ensures that their care is tailored to honor their invaluable service.
Strategic Approach to Labor Challenges
Over the years, the hospice care industry has encountered significant challenges due to labor shortages. However, United Hospice has adeptly overcome these obstacles under dynamic and visionary leadership, establishing a new paradigm. In the face of the labor crisis, they took proactive measures that ensured stability and provided much-needed relief to clinicians. Anticipating the surge in demand, they launched robust recruitment initiatives well ahead of time. This forward-thinking approach guaranteed manageable caseloads and optimal patient care, maintaining a seamless continuum of support.
To alleviate the strain on clinicians, United Hospice established dedicated backup clinical teams. These teams stood ready to offer support and relief whenever necessary, bolstering the organization’s commitment to upholding exceptional care standards while safeguarding the well-being of their dedicated clinical staff.
Recognizing the criticality of attracting and retaining top talent, United Hospice greatly emphasizes offering highly competitive compensation packages. Furthermore, they prioritize work-life balance, acknowledging the profound importance of nurturing the overall well-being of their staff. Finally, they foster an environment that encourages excellence, dedication, and long-term commitment by valuing their professionals’ needs.
Personalized Care Amidst Pandemic
During the pandemic, United Hospice stood firm against the prevailing trend of shifting care to virtual clinics, recognizing that telehealth is not the optimal solution for patients nearing the end of life. Instead, they adopted a deliberate approach to determine which services could be delivered remotely without compromising the high standards of care they uphold.
Covering a vast area spanning two counties in the Hudson Valley, United Hospice went above and beyond by providing in-person care to their patients during the challenging times of the pandemic. Their dedicated staff crisscrossed the region, ensuring that essential care and support were delivered directly to those in need.
In response to the public health crisis, the organization seamlessly transitioned to remote work with partial teams, effectively adapting to the new circumstances. Throughout a challenging period of nine weeks, United Hospice remained steadfastly open, continuing its essential operations. This remarkable achievement can be attributed to the strong and incoming leadership of their Chief Executive Officer, Cara Pace, who spearheaded the organization’s efforts during this critical time.
Empowered Leadership for Extended Care
Cara Pace, the Chief Executive Officer of United Hospice, brings an impressive track record and a wealth of experience spanning over 28 years in the nonprofit, healthcare, and government sectors. She has held key executive leadership positions throughout her career, successfully overseeing complex and diverse portfolios with remarkable skills.
Demonstrating her remarkable ability to drive growth, Cara has generated over $100 million in new business revenue, resulting in more than $1 billion in contracts for the organizations she has served. Her commitment to expanding access to end-of-life care for underserved communities is evident in her achievement of securing $1 million in grant revenue dedicated explicitly to developing such care for Hispanic/Latino communities at United Hospice.
Cara joined United Hospice in 2019 as the Chief Operating Officer, bringing a comprehensive plan to eventually assume the role of Chief Executive Officer. In June 2020, she was promoted to her current position, where her leadership skills continue to make a profound impact.
Cara recognizes the importance of hands-on leadership in managing a hospice organization and ensures her accessibility to all staff members. She is always ready to lend a helping hand and provide lasting solutions to the challenges faced by her team. Furthermore, she is deeply committed to her workforce, fostering a work environment that promotes work-life balance.
Efficiency and practicality are at the core of Cara’s approach, as she strives to be an excellent steward of the organization’s resources. Every interaction with her team reflects her unwavering commitment to excellence, creating a culture of continuous improvement and growth. Her staff appreciates her solution-focused approach and willingness to prescribe more resources to advance the organization’s mission.
Cara’s Career Trajectory
Cara has an impressive educational background, earning an undergraduate degree from Rockefeller College, the State University of New York at Albany, and a Master of Public Administration from Marist College School of Business, specializing in Healthcare Finance and Administration. This solid foundation has equipped her with the necessary skills to excel in her career and positively impact the healthcare industry.
Her professional journey began as a principal financial analyst for the New York State Assembly Ways and Means Committee, where she gained valuable insights into public policy and the intricacies of improving the lives of vulnerable individuals. Recognizing the pressing needs faced by underserved communities, Cara transitioned to the healthcare sector as the Director of Budget and Planning for Community Pediatrics at Montefiore Medical Center. This role further deepened her understanding of the challenges and opportunities in providing healthcare services to those in need.
Over the course of her three-decade career, Cara has held leadership positions in prestigious healthcare and human service organizations, including Montefiore Medical Center, the Children’s Health Fund, and Volunteers of America-Greater New York. Her unwavering commitment to service has driven her to make a meaningful impact on the lives of others, particularly in the areas of healthcare and community support.
Cara’s influence extends beyond her executive roles. She is committed to improving hospice utilization throughout New York State and addressing health disparities in the communities in which United Hospice serves. As a result, she actively serves on various boards and committees, including the Hospice and Palliative Care Association of New York State (HPCANYS) and the State University of New York at Albany, Rockefeller College of Public Affairs. Through her involvement in shaping legislative policies, Cara demonstrates her dedication to advancing the field of hospice and palliative care.
Quest for Exceptional Healthcare Team
Cara focuses on hiring leaders and staff members who embody a strong sense of mission. She looks for people who prioritize serving others over themselves. As she assembles her team, Cara prioritizes professionals with high ethical standards who are fully committed to the organization’s shared values of excellence, compassion, integrity, and teamwork.
Upon assuming her role as CEO, Cara recognized the need to rebuild the organization’s key leadership positions, as the conduct of many individuals needed to align with the shared values they uphold. Guided by a quote from Martin Luther King Jr., “The time is always right to do what is right,” Cara stays firm in her commitment to evaluating every course of action based on what is morally correct. Even when faced with challenges, increased effort, or personal hardships, she remains persistent in her pursuit of doing what is right.
In addition, Cara’s primary responsibility is safeguarding the organization, ensuring its integrity, and upholding the highest standards of conduct. She is steadfast in her determination to protect the financial resources and reputation of the organization. Together with her team, she collectively strives to achieve the best possible outcomes for the communities they serve.
Preserving the Heart of Hospice
Improved Access to Health Data: United Hospice recognizes the potential of enhanced access to health data in delivering patient-centered care. By incorporating data-driven practices, the organization aims to monitor and tailor treatments to individual preferences and needs, thus improving overall care quality.
Meeting the Growing Demand for Hospice Care Professionals: United Hospice proactively addresses the increasing demand for hospice care professionals. The organization implements thoughtful recruitment and onboarding strategies to retain and attract top talent, ensuring they can provide the best hospice services even during high turnovers, such as the post-pandemic Great Resignation.
Emphasis on Quality Assurance: United Hospice is dedicated to continuous improvement. As a Joint Commission Deemed Status Accredited Hospice, the organization constantly works to improve service delivery, operations, and program design. The organization manages a multi-faceted performance improvement plan focusing on advancing patient care excellence. A quality program must be predictive for the organization to stay ahead of trends and be prepared to pivot with the market.
Advocacy for Non-Profit Hospice Organizations: Protecting New York’s predominantly non-profit hospice infrastructure is crucial to preventing hospice care from becoming solely profit-driven. United Hospice stresses the importance of membership in sector-specific organizations, such as the Hospice and Palliative Care Association of New York State (HPCANYS), to advocate for preserving non-profit hospices.
Advocacy plays a vital role in protecting the current infrastructure of mostly non-profit hospice organizations in New York and preventing the transformation of hospice care into a profit-driven enterprise. With 95 percent of New York’s hospices being not-for-profit, these organizations have established themselves as trusted sources of care.
When comparing for-profit hospices to non-profit ones, a notable disparity emerges. For-profit hospices prioritize higher net margins (19.9 percent) over patient care, whereas non-profit hospices focus on delivering quality services with a lower net margin (3 percent). Non-profit hospices go the extra mile in providing patient care, offering 10 percent more nursing visits, 35 percent more social worker visits, and twice as many therapy visits per patient day compared to their for-profit counterparts. Additionally, non-profit hospices admit more critically ill patients immediately after hospital stays. This means that non-profit hospices care for individuals with significantly greater needs, requiring more frequent visits, additional supplies, and medication.
In order to safeguard the non-profit sector’s integrity and ensure that hospice care remains driven by genuine motives, future planning must prioritize its protection. Providers are encouraged to join membership organizations such as HPCANYS to actively contribute to preserving the hospice benefit. By joining these organizations, providers can actively engage in advocacy efforts to maintain the invaluable services of non-profit hospices in New York.
Improved Hospice Utilization for Better Health Outcomes: United Hospice believes that increased utilization of hospice services will lead to improved health outcomes for New Yorkers. By prioritizing end-of-life care and ensuring its broader adoption, the organization aims to enhance the quality of life for individuals facing terminal illnesses.
Piece of Advice for Healthcare Entrepreneurs
A leader never compromises on their core values. As a CEO, Cara follows the same thought process and has some wise suggestions for aspiring entrepreneurs. She says,
- We’re in the business of helping individuals. Remaining mission-focused allows business leaders the needed lens to prioritize the needs of patients and ensure that patient outcomes are high-quality and patient-centered.
- Develop your data analysis skills because the data will guide you to make the needed decisions at an accelerated pace.
- Surround yourself with servant leaders dedicated to your mission and not themselves. Hire kind, thoughtful, and ethical employees and ditch the selfish, self-motivated, and those unwilling to work according to your organization’s code of conduct. You need to surround yourself with the right people capable of advancing the strategic direction of the organization – not their own agenda.
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