NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — After rumors circulated that it was going to be sold and become a for-profit facility, Alive Hospice said they will remain an independent nonprofit.

“We’re elated; we are absolutely elated,” said Alive cofounder Dr. David Barton.

Sitting in the room where he said Alive Hospice was created in 1975, Dr. Barton said he feels like he’s done it all again.

“We can go forward now with Alive Hospice and resume being one of the best hospices in the country. So naturally, we’re very excited; very, very excited,” Dr. Barton said.

Founded in 1975 by David and Lynn Barton as one of the country’s first end-of-life-care facilities, a few weeks ago the Bartons started hearing the nonprofit they built will soon become a for-profit hospice center.

According to research published in JAMA, there is a decrease in quality at for-profit compared to nonprofit hospices.

“[C]aregivers of patients receiving hospice care reported substantially worse care experiences in for-profit than in not-for-profit hospices,” the study’s authors concluded.

In the days leading up to an expected board vote on the future of Alive and a potential sale, the Bartons and others with a connection to the hospice facility started a campaign to keep Alive as is.

“When we first heard about this and, and talking to people, no one knew, and since then it’s just been amazing,” said Lynn Barton.

In a statement on behalf of the board, a spokesperson for Alive explained the decision but denied, without specifics, “false reports” that have been circulating.

“This decision follows several months of working with third-party advisors to explore the industry and local dynamics that will impact Alive’s operations in the years ahead, from reimbursement changes to labor shortages and rising costs to privatization and consolidation across healthcare. Securing the future of Alive for the long term will require a significant investment of time, expertise and resources of our community, and we are planning to solicit feedback from the community to engage Middle Tennesseans in this effort…The last several weeks have demonstrated how much Middle Tennesseans truly care about Alive and are committed to supporting its mission. The Board recognizes the recent outpouring of care Alive has received. However, we also have been dismayed by the circulation of false reports and incomplete information that have only hurt Alive, its staff and the people they serve.

Alive Board

After reading the statement, the Bartons wondered why they weren’t looped into a months-long discussion.

“I wish they had talked to us at the beginning, and they could have gotten this support to start with, and a lot of this could have been just totally avoided,” Lynn said. “I think it took the board, really hearing the community outpouring of support, to make them take a step back.”