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New coalition wants to "Keep Alive alive" by stopping the sale of long-time nonprofit Alive Hospice

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Posted at 6:33 PM, May 09, 2023

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Supporters are stepping up their efforts on behalf of Alive Hospice, trying to keep the nonprofit from being sold to a for-profit company.

At this point, the rumored sale is still just that, a rumor. Nothing is confirmed yet.

But those who want to, as they put it, keep Alive alive, say it needs to stay a nonprofit.

Standing across the street from the Alive Hospice Residence in Midtown, former Hospice Board Chair Liz Schatzlein pleaded, "Please! Please, I am begging the board, do not do this. Don’t do this please!"

Schatzlein and other past board chairs, the founder of Alive Hospice, donors, and family members whose loved ones have been supported by Alive were all there.

"Today we are announcing a coalition of members of the Alive Hospice advisory committee and community leaders called Keep Alive alive," Schatzlein told the reporters gathered for the announcement.

And what this group hopes to do is stop the rumored sale of Alive to a for-profit company.

Coalition member Erie Chapman who served as chief executive at the nearby St. Thomas Midtown Hospital when it was known as Baptist Hospital said, "On behalf of the hundreds of thousands of people that have contributed money, including my foundation, what happens if this (Alive) is sold to a for-profit? All the people that have contributed their support and volunteered their time, suddenly, suddenly, they’re gone."

The supporters' biggest concern is that the business model will change under a for-profit company and patients will suffer.

Current Alive Hospice nurse Heather Wills was also at the news conference and described the work she and others do at the hospice residence behind them.

"This is more like an intensive care unit for the dying," she explained.

If Alive was acquired by a for-profit, staff, Wills, and others fear, would not be able to spend as much time providing care while charity care would go away.

"I can assure you that every day there are people that are not insured, that cannot pay for the care that we give," Wills said.

Tuesday's announcement is this group's latest effort to stop the sale.

They have also paid for billboards on West End.

They started an online petition.

And, they have asked the Tennessee Attorney General to investigate what is going on and whether it's in the public's best interest.

"Alive Hospice is not only Middle Tennessee’s only nonprofit hospice, it is the only residential hospice in this area, the only hospice that provides charity care, and the only hospice that provides pediatric end-of-life care,"Schatzlein explained.

Former Congressman Jim Cooper's first wife died at the Midtown facility two years ago and he created a video message that he sent to Alive Hospice board members where he spoke out against the sale.

"I love Alive Hospice so much and I want to keep it the way it is and the way it's always been," Cooper said in the recorded message.

In that same recording, he also questioned why Alive is still actively encouraging people to make tax-deductible donations.

"Alive is soliciting charitable contributions today while the board seems to be clearly contemplating a change of control to a for-profit entity. Such a solicitation is in my opinion not only misleading but fraudulent," Cooper said.

While the CEO and Board at Alive refuse to confirm or deny or even discuss the sale, coalition members believe the sale is imminent.

Former board chair Mary Falls stated, "We have it confirmed by four independent sources that it is for sale."

They also believe the rumored buyer is Amedisys, a Louisiana-based company that provides hospice and other in-home health care across the country.

But the problem coalition members believe is that in financial disclosures, they say, Amedisys reveals that of the $160 a day it receives from the government for each patient, the company only spends half of that on patient care.

Former board chair Liz Schatzlein's reaction?

"That is a travesty, and that is the only word for it. It is a travesty."

The coalition of supporters is now collecting comments they say they will share with the Attorney General and Hospice Board. You can share your thoughts by emailing keepalivealive@gmail.com.

Amedisys did not return our calls for comment.

Alive's Board sent another statement today, again not commenting directly on the sale, but saying in part, "We...assure you that the Alive Board is committed to acting only in the best interest of the organization we love and its future."

Here is the full statement from Alive’s Governing Board Executive Committee on behalf of the Board.

“In light of further media activity today surrounding the future of Alive, we are reaching out to assure you that the Alive Board is committed to acting only in the best interest of the organization we love and its future. Our Board is comprised of volunteers from the community, and each of us serves because our lives have been personally impacted by Alive, often at times of great sadness and loss. Like any other nonprofit, our Board members are bound to keep certain activities and conversations confidential, and it would be a breach of our duty to Alive to share any such discussions. This puts us at a distinct disadvantage in the current environment where some members of our community, who are well aware of the restrictions on our ability to speak, use the absence of information to fashion their own version of events. We want to emphasize that the comments being made about the Board’s actions are purely speculative and seem intended to frighten those who rely on Alive for their care. It has been very heartening to hear from so many people in our community during the past week and learn how much they love Alive. As Board members, we also are committed to sustaining the legacy of Alive so that generations of Middle Tennesseans will benefit from hospice care into the future, regardless of their ability to pay. This is why we give the time and donations we do to the organization. We ask the community to trust that, even though we cannot comment on what is being said, we will never do anything to harm the people or legacy of Alive.”

PREVIOUS RELATED REPORTING:
Rumors swirl about the potential sale of longtime Nashville nonprofit Alive Hospice