Hospice of Chattanooga, the oldest and largest provider of hospice care in this region, has dropped its appeal of a new hospice headed by a former Hospice of Chattanooga physician.
In June, the Tennessee Health Services Development Agency approved a license for Hearth Hospice, created by Dr. Deanna Duncan, who worked on the staff of Hospice of Chattanooga for a number of years. That application, called a Certificate of Need, was opposed by Amedisys , Hospice of Chattanooga, Caris, and Home Health Care and Hospice of East Tennessee. The collective opposition was based on data that the agencies said showed there was no need for a new hospice provider. The state board decided otherwise and approved Hearth, even after denying Bristol Hospice only three months earlier based on the same data presentation.
Hospice of Chattanooga then filed an appeal to the decision but weeks ago decided to drop the action, "citing a desire to stay focused on providing great hospice care and not getting caught up in legal actions."
“We had the simplest of questions regarding why one applicant would be denied and another be approved when looking at the same data” said Garry Mac, a spokesman for Hospice of Chattanooga. “It was unfortunate and a bit uncomfortable, that with the approved applicant being one of our former physicians, some people wanted to spin their story to make us look like bad guys for even asking the question.”
Another factor in Hospice of Chattanooga dropping its appeal is that the appeal would not have been heard until next year. According to Mr. Mac, that would mean that if Hospice of Chattanooga won its appeal, it would make for an unprecedented situation in that, technically, a provider in business for (at that point) a year would be put out of business. “While that likely wouldn’t happen, nothing about that scenario felt good” said Mr. Mac. “And it is really more important that Hospice of Chattanooga and competing providers, both old and new, stay focused on caring for patients who are facing the end of life.”
To add to the confusion, the state Division of Health Planning has drafted new hospice certificate of need (CON) standards and criteria, based on the feedback they received from a questionnaire they recently sent to interested parties. The Tennessee Hospice Organization has appointed a committee tasked with reviewing the state’s current standards and proposed changes in the CON standards and criteria for residential and non-residential hospice services.
The Division of Health Planning has set a deadline of Oct. 31 for submission of comments from providers and members of the public. A public hearing to discuss the draft of new hospice CON standards and criteria will be held Tuesday, Oct. 30, at 10 a.m. in the Cheatham Room on the 3rd Floor of the Snodgrass Tennessee Tower, 312 Rosa L. Parks Ave. in Nashville.