Unique Hospice and Palliative Care Unit Provides Patient Care and Physician Training

MIAMI--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- In a unique partnership, VITAS Innovative Hospice Care® and the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine have established an inpatient hospice unit that provides quality, compassionate end-of-life care to its patients and serves as a world-class training ground for the next generation of hospice and palliative care specialists.

The 10-bed, state-of the-art VITAS Hospice and Palliative Care Unit at the University of Miami Hospital offers South Florida patients and their families a more complete range of options in hospice care. It also serves an educational purpose, thanks to a five-year, $500,000 grant made by VITAS, one of the nation’s leading providers of end-of-life care, to the Miller School of Medicine to establish a fellowship program in hospice and palliative care.

“Miller School of Medicine Hospice and Palliative Care Fellows will work side-by-side with our VITAS physicians and all the staff to gain full knowledge of hospice,” says Joel Policzer, MD, VITAS senior vice president and national medical director. “The partnership’s unique teaching Fellowship at the VITAS Hospice and Palliative Care Unit will foster future hospice physicians.”

“The association between VITAS, the Miller School of Medicine’s Department of Family Medicine and Community Health and University of Miami Hospital will pave the way for addressing enhanced solutions to end-of-life care and palliative medicine in the future,” says Tim O’Toole, VITAS chief executive officer. “Our inpatient hospice units provide great care and meet the diverse needs of the community in innovative and cost-effective ways. They also can serve as a center for information on hospice and end of life care – from the latest in pain management for physicians to a source for information on advance directives and living wills for families and their loved ones.”

“We are very proud to enter into this collaboration to provide end-of-life care with the experts at VITAS and even more so because it is being done in an academic medical center setting,” says Pascal J. Goldschmidt, MD, senior vice president for medical affairs and dean of the Miller School of Medicine. “Academic medicine is always at the leading edge of technology, research, and innovative clinical care and treatments, but despite our overarching commitment to saving lives, there often comes a time when nothing more can be done.

“It is at that point that we must recognize the importance of a patient being allowed to die in a dignified way that offers the most support to them and to their families,” he adds.

Adds Robert Schwartz, MD, professor and chair of the Miller School’s Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, “This collaboration has been years in the making and we are very proud to partner with VITAS to offer this service to the community at large.”

Located on the seventh floor of University of Miami Hospital’s south tower, the unit offers respite, palliative and supportive care in a comfortable, tranquil and homelike environment that embraces patients and their families and visitors. A VITAS interdisciplinary team of physicians, nurses, hospice aides, social workers, chaplains, volunteers and bereavement support staff attend not only to the medical needs of patients but also to the emotional, social and spiritual needs of patients and their families.

“Home, rather than the hospital, is where most hospice patients want to be. But sometimes the illness makes that difficult,” says Dian Backoff, VITAS vice president for hospice operations. “With our inpatient hospice units, we truly strive to be a home away from home for our patients and their families. While we are able to provide hospital-level care, we do so in a home-like setting, with a family room, a quiet room and a kitchen for families to prepare snacks and light meals as they spend time with their loved ones.”

For more information, contact VITAS at 800.93.VITAS.


VITAS Innovative Hospice Care®, a pioneer and leader in the hospice movement since 1978, is one of the nation’s largest providers of end-of-life care. Headquartered in Miami, Florida, VITAS (pronounced VEE-tahs) operates 45 hospice programs in 16 states (California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin). VITAS employs 9,702 professionals who care for terminally ill patients daily, primarily in the patients’ homes, but also in the company’s 30 inpatient hospice units as well as in hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living communities/residential care facilities for the elderly. At the conclusion of the Fourth quarter of 2009, VITAS reported an average daily census of 12,322. Visit www.vitas.com.

Listed on the New York Stock Exchange and headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, Chemed Corporation (NYSE:CHE) operates two wholly owned subsidiaries: VITAS Healthcare and Roto-Rooter.

About University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine

The University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine, founded in 1952, was the first medical school in the state of Florida. The Miller School of Medicine is located on the 153-acre University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center complex in Miami. The medical center includes three University-owned hospitals that make up the University of Miami Health System (UHealth): University of Miami Hospital, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center and Bascom Palmer Eye Institute. Our three primary affiliated hospitals on the campus include Jackson Memorial Hospital, Holtz Children’s Hospital and the Miami VA Medical Center. Miller School faculty members conduct more than 1,700 research projects in basic science and clinical care in facilities totaling more than 500,000 square feet of research space.

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VITAS Innovative Hospice Care®
Kal Mistry, Chief Administrative Officer/Senior Vice President, 305-350-5990
Megan Carella, APR, Public Relations Editor, 352-560-3415

KEYWORDS:   United States  North America  Florida

INDUSTRY KEYWORDS:   Seniors  Other Consumer  Health  Hospitals  Other Health  Consumer  Nursing  General Health  Managed Care


The VITAS Inpatient Hospice Unit at the University of Miami Hospital provides hospital-level care in a home-like setting, with a family room and a kitchen for families to prepare snacks and light meals as they spend time with their loved ones. (Photo: Business Wire)
At the grand opening of the VITAS Hospice and Palliative Care Unit at the University of Miami (UM) Hospital were, from the left: Peggy Pettit, VITAS executive vice president and COO; Paul Pugliese, M.D., VITAS associate medical director; Robert Schwartz, M.D., Miller School of Medicine professor and chair of family medicine; Anthony Degina, CEO, UM Hospital; Joel Policzer, M.D., VITAS national medical director; Peter Benjamin, The Huntington Consulting Group; and Kenneth Goodman, Ph.D., director of the UM Bioethics Program. (Photo: Business Wire)