At VITAS Healthcare, we believe our position as the nation’s largest provider of end-of-life care comes with important responsibilities. One of the four VITAS Values that define our company says it best: “I am proud to make a difference.” VITAS has been making a difference in end-of-life care through leadership, charitable care and education since our founding in 1978.
Corporate social responsibility begins with responsible governance. Like most founding members of the hospice movement in the United States, VITAS began as a non-profit organization. But we quickly learned that non-profit status didn’t allow us to access the capital needed to keep pace with the growing number of terminally ill patients in the United States.
Shifting to for-profit status has allowed VITAS to extend its innovative model of care to patients and communities who previously had no access to the benefits of hospice.
As a financially strong and growing company, we are committed to fulfilling our social responsibilities in several key areas:
Responsibility to care: VITAS provides millions of dollars in charity care each year, more than any other hospice provider. We care for all hospice-appropriate patients, regardless of diagnosis and ability to pay. We admit patients that smaller hospices will not or cannot accept, including those with expensive or complicated diagnoses, and those in high-crime neighborhoods. These efforts have made us a leader in expanding hospice care beyond its perception as a service for the privileged and those with cancer.
Responsibility to lead: In the early 1980s, VITAS led a bipartisan effort to add reimbursement for hospice services to the federal Medicare program, and we continue to make advocacy a priority. We are the only major hospice provider employing full-time state and federal public affairs professionals to work with legislators, regulators and public policy experts to improve and expand end-of-life care. We are also proud to support organizations such as the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and the prestigious Duke Institute on Care at the End of Life, which are making important strides in research, education and outreach for people of all ages, races and backgrounds.
Responsibility to educate: VITAS has done more to define quality hospice care than any other provider. Our clinicians have developed an extensive library of educational and training materials for hospice clinicians as well as other healthcare providers, patients and families. Our executives also share their expertise by teaching courses and leading sessions and workshops at many national hospice conferences.
Responsibility to conserve: We are determined to reduce our environmental impact through measures large and small. The paper used in most of our marketing materials is now certified green; it is produced by a mill that does not pollute the water or air and plants two trees for every one it cuts down. We have even replaced the Styrofoam plates and cups in our corporate office with biodegradable products, and staff are encouraged to use printing and photocopying resources as efficiently as possible.