April Anthony, CEO VitalCaring Group
April Anthony, Credit: VitalCaring Group

If VitalCaring Group CEO April Anthony has her way, her new home care firm will become as big a name in the space as another company she founded: Encompass Home Health and Hospice.

“I’ve been in this business since 1992 and I know from experience that dominating in this space is really hard,” Anthony told McKnight’s Home Care Daily Pulse on Wednesday.

Anthony joined VitalCaring as CEO last summer and owns a third of the Dallas-based firm, along with private equity founders Vistria Group and Nautic Partners. VitalCaring comprises 16 separate home care, hospice, companion care and pediatric care businesses across five Southern states and 74 locations.

Anthony began rebranding the units under the VitalCaring name last week. The process will continue through the spring. She then has her sights set on a national rollout that will entail a “hub-and-spoke” approach to acquisitions and organic growth.

“Don’t expect us to buy a little dab [of the market] in Virginia or a little dab in Utah,” Anthony explained. “We may start with a small acquisition in Virginia, but we would build out around that. What I don’t like is the everywhere and nowhere concept. If I pick a market, I want to become a dominant player in that market.” 

Anthony said her playbook includes building out home health first, followed by hospice. From there, the company will look to possibly expand all four service lines to every market it serves.

“Scale and density are a huge part in how you drive efficiency in the home care world,” Anthony continued. “You have to have a presence in a market to become the preferred provider and the preferred employer.” 

Anthony knows a thing or two about scaling a national business. She founded Homecare Homebase, a massive cloud-based home care and hospice software platform, more than two decades ago. 

She founded Encompass Home Health and Hospice in 1998. In June 2021, she left the post as CEO of Encompass Health’s home health and hospice segment. The division was spun off as Enhabit last year. A few months after her resignation, Encompass sued Anthony for breach of noncompetition and nonsolicitation agreements, accusing her of trying to recruit away Encompass employees to a new venture. A judge ruled Anthony had to abide by the contract for a year but did not agree to Encompass’s request to extend it a year longer. 

Anthony called the lawsuit “disheartening” and said she has put the incident behind her.

“It was disappointing the way it went down,” she said. “But it’s settled now and is in the rearview mirror. I’m moving forward now and looking forward to future success.”