VITAS Healthcare Expands Hospice and Palliative Care Services in San Francisco, Introduces Virtual Reality Therapy

The group prepares to cut the ceremonial ribbon

Pictured from left: Senior Vice President of Operations Jean Hunn, Amelia Linde from the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, General Manager Russell Williamson, Vice President of Operations Belinda Hodge, and Chief Operating Officer Joel Wherley.


SAN FRANCISCO, CA – VITAS® Healthcare, the nation’s leading provider of end-of-life care, celebrated the opening of its new office in San Francisco on Wednesday, September 25, 2019. This marks the company’s third office in the Bay Area, with additional locations in San Mateo and Milpitas

Intended to accommodate the area’s growing senior population (20% of the city’s residents are 60 or older, with this population increasing by 18% since 2000) and need for end-of-life care services, the new San Francisco location gives VITAS the capabilities to expand access to the 62% of Medicare beneficiaries underutilizing the hospice benefit in San Francisco County.

Healthcare professionals may contact the San Francisco office at 415.814.1989 for referral information or download the VITAS referral app at for one-touch referrals, VITAS locations and hospice eligibility guidelines.

“The additional location allows our employees to offer rapid response care at all hours of the day to San Francisco patients,” said Russell Williamson, general manager VITAS in San Francisco. “We’re committed to providing the highest quality care and service to patients and their families, and know this office will allow us to further address the area’s increasing end-of-life care needs.”

In addition to expanding its presence in San Francisco, VITAS is introducing virtual reality (VR) headsets to patients in order to bring them comfort during the difficult time of the end of life. The immersive technology enhances the patient experience by decreasing symptom burden while increasing quality of life. The VR technology also offers a unique opportunity for patients to experience things virtually that were previously not possible in a physical sense. For example, to help calm an anxious patient, they can take a virtual walk through a field along a tranquil stream or even journey to Machu Picchu in Peru.

Since its founding over 40 years ago, VITAS has cared for more than 1.5 million patients nationally. Today, VITAS employs nearly 1,100 healthcare and corporate professionals in California who care for more than 3,300 patients daily.

VITAS services for hospice-eligible San Francisco patients include:

  • Admissions personnel available 24/7/365—at the convenience of the family or upon the request of the physician
  • Physical, emotional and spiritual care provided by a hospice team that visits the patient at home, in their nursing home or assisted living facility
  • 24/7 access to trained clinicians who can dispatch a team member to the home when necessary
  • Continuous care at home for up to 24 hours when symptoms are clinically appropriate
  • Comprehensive open formulary pharmacy program, with hospice-related medical equipment and supplies delivered to the home
  • Complex modalities for high-acuity patients (IV therapies, inotropes, paracentesis/thoracentesis, high-flow therapy, palliative blood transfusions, TPN and more)

Additional therapies and patient-focused programs include:

  • Dedicated attention to the unique needs of US veterans including Level 4 partnership with We Honor Veterans, a program developed by the Veterans Administration and the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization
  • Massage therapy administered by a certified massage therapist
  • Music memories: a visit by a certified music therapist with the goal of meeting physical, emotional, cognitive, social and spiritual needs through music
  • Paw Pals®: Loving animals and their volunteer owners who visit patients to provide comfort

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