San Diego Hospice moving operations

San Diego Hospice is moving its operations to Hillcrest | Photo by Brad Racino

By Ryann Grochowski | inewsource

San Diego Hospice is continuing to cut back, this time moving operations from a large Mission Valley business plaza to its former acute-care hospital in Hillcrest.

Spokeswoman Melissa DelaCalzada called it “a smart financial decision.”

The hospice was threatened with eviction in December. A lawsuit filed by the building’s owners accused San Diego Hospice of missing its $79,000 rent payment.

DelaCalzada said the hospice has since paid its December and January rent, but will move to the Hillcrest facility next week. The move allows them to save money and consolidate staff into one building, she said.

Attorneys for Brookwood Crossroads Investors, owners of the Mission Valley office building, did not return phone calls and e-mails Thursday.

San Diego Hospice is the largest hospice provider in the county. It was a $83 million operation in 2010, according to the nonprofit’s tax forms.

Last year, the hospice closed its 24-bed facility in Hillcrest and laid off about 280 employees. The tough times come on the heels of a Medicare audit, which has been ongoing for two years.

Medicare has been cracking down on the use of hospice benefits, which are intended for patients diagnosed with six months or less to live. Medicare’s payments for hospice ballooned from $2.2 billion in 1998 to $12.1 billion in 2009, according to government statistics. San Diego Hospice officials said they admitted patients who were likely to live longer than six months, and might have to return millions in Medicare funding.

In November, San Diego Hospice President and CEO Kathleen Pacurar told KPBS she didn’t yet know the results of the audit.

“But what we do know now is because Medicare’s looking at all of our documentation, it’s highly likely that for a couple of months, or a quarter at least, our income will be decreased severely,” she said.

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