A Conversation with Norma English, CEO of Hospice Partners of America

Hospice Partners of America (HPA) has a simple but important mission: “Doing whatever it takes when it matters most” so that no one dies alone, afraid or in pain. We talked to HPA CEO Norma English about HPA’s recent accomplishments and the unique challenges of working in the hospice industry.

New Capital Partners: Tell us  about your professional history, both before HPA and at HPA.

Norma English: I have been very fortunate to have opportunities in a variety of healthcare settings. With a degree in nursing, my first roles were clinically based in acute care.  I transitioned into hospital leadership roles which evolved into physician practice management. While working in the PPM industry, I was involved with an IPO and a secondary offering which were great learning experiences. During this time, I was an early adopter of electronic medical records (EMR) and had significant experience in transitioning physician practices to electronic records. This led to opportunities in EMR and technology development for various outpatient healthcare services companies.

I stumbled into hospice when a large regional hospice provider was looking to strengthen its leadership team in preparation for rapid growth, outside investors and a possible IPO. In hospice I found my true passion in being able to positively impact patients’ (and their families’) end-of-life experience. After five years in hospice, I had an opportunity to gain experience in the Home Health Industry as the COO of a large regional provider. Although I enjoyed my time in home health, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to return to hospice as the CEO of Hospice Partners in late 2011.

 

NCP: What were some highlights in the past year at HPA that you’re particularly proud of or excited about? What are you most looking forward to this year for the company?

NE: In the past year, Hospice Partners has demonstrated significant growth. This is always exciting. I believe that we have also matured as an organization and have been able to refine our policies and processes to insure ability to scale the organization, regulatory compliance, great patient care and continued growth.

In late 2018, we added a Palliative Care program to our San Antonio market – it is performing above expectations. In 2019, I am looking forward to the expansion of the Palliative Care program and continued hospice growth, allowing us to make a difference in the lives of more patients.

 

NCP: What are some of the biggest challenges you and your team face working in the healthcare and hospice industry?

NE: We have two challenging areas: First, it is challenging to find qualified, compassionate, committed staff. In healthcare, there is a growing shortage of licensed staff. Our workforce is recruited by our competitors and other healthcare providers on a weekly basis with offers of increased salary, signing bonuses, etc. We work very hard to stay close to our team to help them feel supported and valued, but this continues to be an uphill battle.

Our second major challenge is the increasing scrutiny that hospice is facing from regulatory entities. The hospice industry has grown rapidly over the past ten years and some “bad performers” have moved into the industry. The amount of regulatory oversight is increasing exponentially every year, which takes time and effort away from providing patient care.

 

NCP: What do you love most about your work at HPA and the company as a whole?

NE: The people – our wonderful compassionate staff and the amazing patients/families who we have the privilege to serve.

 

NCP: Describe the relationship between HPA and New Capital Partners.

NE: It is truly a partnership. NCP is dedicated to helping us continually improve and be best in class in every aspect of our business.

 

NCP: What has been the most beneficial part of HPA’s partnership with New Capital Partners?

NE: New Capital Partners’ business acumen and their contacts with innovative businesses help our organization be more successful.