Diversity, Working at VITAS
February 21, 2022

‘At VITAS, I’m Able to Be an Advocate for Patients’

A collage of headshots of Kate Ndi and Sonja Richmond

Kate Ndi, VITAS general manager, and Dr. Sonja Richmond, VITAS medical director, lead their colleagues in Washington, D.C., in making sure underserved communities can take advantage of hospice care.

VITAS General Manager Kate Ndi, MSN, RN, is a leader and champion of the company mission to increase access to hospice care in underserved communities.

“In Washington D.C., we have a very diverse community. We’re constantly working on strategies to ensure our services are available to underserved Black communities. We work continuously to increase outreach efforts and education around the benefits of hospice,” she says.

According to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, although hospice use has increased in the Black community, only 8.5% of the 1.61 million Americans who received hospice care in 2019 were African American.

The barriers preventing Black patients from utilizing hospice services include cultural, environmental, religious, and lack of knowledge around hospice.

VITAS is dedicated to providing high-quality care for patients and families in the Black community and the different communities around the country. A deeper and more meaningful connection to our patients and their families can be achieved when our employees reflect these communities.

‘I’m Able to Be an Advocate for Patients’

Joining VITAS about ten years ago, Washington, D.C. Medical Director Dr. Sonja Richmond is passionate about end-of-life care.

“As a hospitalist and physician in long-term care centers, I observed ‘the revolving door’ of patient frequent hospitalizations, numerous medications and procedures, and the lack of ‘voice’ in their own care/treatment. I saw suffering, no quality of life,” says Richmond.

“At VITAS, I’m able to be an advocate for patients, giving them a voice. I am able to put the patient’s first and identify with them as human, not as their disease or condition.”

Inspired to Keep Going the Extra Mile

With more than 23 years of experience in nursing, Ndi has a broad range of health care experience, both at the bedside and in leadership.

She’s found hospice care to be the most empowering and rewarding field.

“As a professional in hospice, it hurts to know that a lot of Black and minority families are still not benefiting from the services of hospice,” says Ndi.

“However, when patients express their appreciation and families write back to say ‘Thank you. We are happy we chose VITAS,’ it makes me feel our team has made a difference. It really inspires me to continue to go the extra mile,” she continues.

‘An Endless Path for Professional Growth’

From collaborating with case managers to patient visits, and educational sessions with community physicians to speaking engagements, Dr. Richmond works tirelessly to increase understanding and awareness of hospice.

“VITAS is a positive environment for innovation around hospice care. We are encouraged to embrace our individuality, share thoughts and ideas. There is no ceiling, I have an endless path for professional growth and excellence,” she says.

As a healthcare professional, she also incorporates the practice of yoga and has earned teaching certificates, travels the world with fellow yogis, and offers classes locally in her community.

At VITAS she is able to share her knowledge and open hearts and minds to the benefits of health and wellness.

Both Kate Ndi and Sonja Richmond consistently use their platform to educate, inspire, and open doors for the next generation. Their work in Washington, D.C. demonstrates what our effort in underserved communities is about: connection, compassion, outreach, and education.