NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Countless lives in Middle Tennessee have ended peacefully with the help of Alive Hospice, but the founders worry that standard of care will decline if the rumors they’re hearing are true.
Founded in 1975 by doctors David and Lynn Barton as one of the country’s first end-of-life-care facilities, the Bartons are hearing the nonprofit they built will soon become a for-profit hospice center.
The Bartons said after learning of Alive’s potential sale last week, the CEO and board members have not given them any information on its future.
“I’ve felt devastated because we’ve basically been stonewalled,” Dr. David Barton said.
Once the board president, David now has only an advisory role in Alive and is turning to the community he has served to keep the facility as is.
“We wanted from the very beginning to focus on the living part of dying. People really are alive until they take their very last breath,” Dr. Lynn Barton said.
For the people who have had loved ones pass under Alive’s care, the quality of care at Alive was unmatched.
“My mother-in-law, she was in a hospital here in Nashville and here and she was dying, and they kind of quit taking care of her,” said Lisa Campbell. “I said I want her moved to Alive and they cleaned her up, got her much more comfortable, much more at peace.”
Campbell is worried if it were to become a for-profit hospice care center, they will no longer take care of people regardless of income, age, or background.
She said Alive was their for people dying of AIDS when other institutions wouldn’t touch them and cares for about 20 terminally-ill children a year.
In a statement, Alive’s Board of Directors Chair, Vicki Estrin, did not confirm or deny the rumors of sales talks.
“We explore many more potential partnerships than we ever pursue and cannot speak to reports. We understand people are concerned by the current reports that are circulating, and appeal for calm. The Alive Board would never do anything that would harm the organization or jeopardize patients’ and families’ access to the vital clinical and mission-based services Alive provides,” Estrin wrote.
According to research published in JAMA, there is a decrease in quality at for-profit compared to nonprofit hospices.
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“[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.
A change.org petition calling for Alive to stay a non profit has more than 2,300 signatures.