Director of Admissions
Hospice of Palm Beach County

Can Do Makes for a Win Win

It was a defining moment for Jennifer Kast that would ultimately improve access to care for Hospice of Palm Beach County patients and their families. “There was a case at Boca Community Hospital where a patient was obviously going to die. She needed hospice care, but her condition was complicated. She was on a ventilator, and her mom was having a very difficult time dealing with the situation. Another provider might have said,

‘We can’t take this patient.’ Hospice of Palm Beach County did. I believe in always finding a way.”

It’s that can do attitude and a passion for ensuring that everyone who needs hospice care gets it, that inspire Kast to think outside of the box. She joined Hospice of Palm Beach County in 2000 to help develop and market LATIS, Hospice of Pam Beach County’s web-based software system. She took on her role as Director of Admissions two years ago. Since then, yearly admissions have increased from 5,250 to 6,002. Under Kast’s leadership, the number of patients admitted has remained above the goals for the organization.

“Jenn is committed to open access and meeting patient and family needs,” says Terri Guzman, Chief Operations Officer at Hospice of Palm Beach County. “I count on her to make decisions that are in the best interests of patients and families. During the past two years, Jenn has grown significantly in her role as the Director of the Admissions Department by confronting problems, resolving them and moving forward. Her greatest strength is her passion, drive and care for the work we do and for her employees. She has succeeded in building a team that understands and supports the mission of Hospice of Palm Beach County,” Guzman says.

Kast believes that “operating in the gray” and with more initiative means Hospice of Palm Beach County is able to respond in the same day or hour that it receives a call. “If a referral comes in, and the patient is in a nursing home at the north end of the county, but the family is down south, we get to all of them right away. Physicians are so busy and often can’t respond as quickly as they’d like, so we go beyond the barriers,” she says. In contrast, if a patient is not eligible for hospice services, her team helps them find the resources they need to get proper treatment.

As a director, Kast is known for motivating her 50-plus staff to do whatever it takes for patients and families. Her Administrative Assistant, Tamekia Graham, said, “A lot of people say, ‘We can’t’ or ‘We won’t.’ We say, ‘We can’ and ‘We will.’ We’re constantly striving to reach new and better levels of customer service.”

The goal for this year is to have an even faster response time for patients, families and referral sources. “I want to be more customer-service-oriented and put the small details into the up-front admission process, so that patients receive hospice services sooner,” Kast said.

People often assume that because Hospice of Palm Beach County cares for the dying that Jennifer’s job is depressing. Kast says, “Seriously, how can it be depressing to know that every day at work you’re helping at least one person? I put my head on the pillow at night knowing that I truly make a difference.”

Despite her successes, Kast’s proudest accomplishment is Alexis, her six year old daughter. “She is the love of my life.” Jennifer Kast holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Florida Atlantic University. She has participated as a speaker at the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s Management and Leadership Conference and at the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine.