Like many other fields, the American hospice care landscape is comprised of both for-profit and nonprofit organizations. While both categories of providers specialize in end-of-life care, the two differ in terms of their financial structures and goals. According to John Mezo, executive director at Faith Presbyterian Hospice, the main difference between for-profit and nonprofit hospice care providers lies in how they allocate their money and resources.
“When you’re a for-profit hospice care provider, your goal is to not only serve patients, but to also please your shareholders through financial returns,” explained Mezo. “As a nonprofit, all our surplus funds and resources are invested back into Faith Presbyterian. Therefore, we’re able to consistently improve and expand the amenities and services we provide.”
Mezo’s assessment has some strong evidence to back it up. According to a national hospice survey conducted by Yale University and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, nonprofit and for-profit hospices differ in their contributions to the community, and to patients and their families. For-profit hospice centers are less likely to provide community benefits by serving as training sites, conducting research and providing charity care.
Other studies have found that for-profit hospice centers provide a narrower range of services to patients and families, offer less comprehensive bereavement services to families, have less professionalized staff, and have lower staff-to-patient ratios.
“For-profit hospice organizations certainly have the same goals we do in terms of making a difference in the lives of patients and their families,” noted Mezo. “They just happen to lack the same financial freedom to invest all their extra dollars back into their organizations.”
This freedom has enabled Faith Presbyterian Hospice to pursue innovative programs beyond the scope of the typical hospice care provider. These include:
- Faithful Paws – Provides the soothing presence of animals to provide comfort and help patients cope with illness.
- Faithful Presence – Faith Presbyterian records the memories, appreciations, and stories of loved ones and friends to help ensure nothing is left unsaid. The recordings are provided to patients and to all participating family members.
- Child and Family Bereavement – Incorporates play therapy and music to support grieving children at their time of greatest need. Child life specialists, social workers and bereavement coordinators are part of a team that offers family support following the loss of a loved one when children are involved.
- Camp Faith – Offered in the months of August and December, this day camp allows children, grandchildren, and their surviving parents and grandparents to express their grief in a safe, secure, creative environment, and to develop creative ways to heal after the loss of a loved one.
“The Faith difference is simply going the extra mile to provide the best personalized, holistic care to those we serve,” explained Mezo. “Our nonprofit status is key in ensuring we do just that.”