Case Study: Integrating Two Leading Organizations Into One Powerful Team
In January 2020, Hospice Care of South Carolina, a portfolio company of The Vistria Group, acquired Agapé Hospice to become the largest hospice and palliative care provider in South Carolina. Together, the two formed Agape Care Group, which today serves more than 1,500 patients and employs 900 team members across two key networks: Agape Care South Carolina and Agape Care Georgia.
Together, Agape Care is able to reach more patients and families in the Southeast, increasing access to a superior patient-family experience that’s supported by expertly trained staff, technology platforms, and a commitment to both cultural and clinical excellence. “We decided to take this step forward to enhance our ability to respond to our patients’ needs, capitalizing on the talent and connections of each organization,” Agape Care CEO Troy Yarborough said. “Combining our organizations means we can be more responsive.”
But uniting two organizations was an extensive undertaking that required alignment across important areas, a smooth and streamlined integration process, and a plan for measuring impact and encouraging future growth.
Ensuring Smooth Operational Integration
From the start, collaboration was key in the integration of Hospice Care South Carolina and Agapé Hospice. There was never more emphasis on the company that did the acquiring; instead, it was essential to apply a philosophy of working together and being on the same team. “We were intentional about working as a combined team and deciding together: What’s the best way to move forward?” said Carry vandenMaagdenberg, Agape Care’s chief operating officer.
Agape Care established an integration team that covered all areas, from compliance to clinical development. Detailed work streams were created using Smartsheet, ensuring that progress could be measured and tracked. Regular meetings, including monthly steering committee meetings with the board and The Vistria Group, were essential in keeping the integration on schedule.
Throughout this process, communication was paramount; team members were able to understand what was happening at any given time, and keeping employees from both organizations in the loop helped foster a culture of inclusion.
Prioritizing People and Culture
As separate providers, both Hospice Care of South Carolina and Agapé Hospice were committed to addressing the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of patients and their families. Agape Care Group wanted to reflect the heart of these legacy organizations by creating new mission, vision, and values statements, while also laying the groundwork for a culture specific to this unified organization.
Agape Care’s new mission statement — to serve with love, providing comfort and support through compassionate care and meaningful experiences — reflects that desire. By living out its mission and values, Agape Care can achieve its vision: to be recognized as the premier provider of care in the Southeast known for our superior patient-family experience, delivering the highest quality care, and building a culture of excellence.
But the ultimate goal was to create meaningful statements that Agape Care team members truly believed in. “All these pretty words on a piece of paper don’t mean anything if it’s not reflected in our actions, if it’s not what our patients see,” vandenMaagdenberg said. “Our mission, vision, and values are really who we are, and they’re truly a driver of every conversation, decision, and interaction.”
Value Creation and Impact So Far
Because Hospice Care of South Carolina and Agapé Care served the same geographic areas with some of the same referral sources, there were initial concerns that the integration process might have led to erosion. Instead, by uniting the best practices and skilled employees from both organizations, Agape Care has seen consistent growth and low turnover. Among those 900 team members, turnover has been low — in 2020, the turnover rate was about 22%, low for the industry and for a team that’s gone through an acquisition. VandenMaagdenberg credited the company’s consistent and honest communication, focus on a shared culture, and emphasis on a nurturing transition. “making sure we had strong communications with the entire organization as a combined entity to make sure everybody felt welcome and they were part of something bigger.
Looking to the Future
Realizing Agape Care’s vision starts now, and the organization is focused on taking steps that will allow it to become the provider of choice for patients and families. Innovation is crucial to this, which is why Agape Care has invested in leading technology platforms, including Muse Healthcare and Trella. Additionally, Agape Care has hired a Chief Development Officer, Dan Beuerlein, who will help implement growth strategies that will allow the company to expand and increase access to quality care. “For any organizations joining Agape Care Group, we want them to be our family and truly feel that our mission, vision, and values truly represent who we are as a company,” vandenMaagdenberg said.
And as the company continues to grow, the focus on high-quality care and building a culture of excellence remains the same. These steps are just part of Agape Care’s vision to be seen as the provider of choice in the Southeast. The company will continue to provide superior care and serve with love, and move forward — together.