DaVita Inc. is one of the largest kidney care companies in the United States, with corporate headquarters in Denver, Colorado. Their offerings include in-center hemodialysis, in-center nocturnal dialysis, peritoneal dialysis, home hemodialysis, vascular access management, chronic kidney disease education, and renal diet assistance.
Between 2012 and 2015, DaVita paid out nearly $1 billion—without admitting any wrongdoing—to settle three whistle-blower lawsuits.
In 1999 DaVita was known as Total Renal Care (TRC), a dialysis company on the brink of bankruptcy. That year, Kent Thiry joined TRC as CEO and the company was restructured and renamed DaVita, which roughly translates from Italian as "giving life." DaVita was featured as a Harvard Business School case.
Since then, the company has grown significantly, reaching 230 on the Fortune 500 as of 2014. DaVita acquired Gambro's U.S.-based clinics in 2004. The merger doubled the number of DaVita’s outpatient facilities, combining DaVita's 664 clinics with Gambro Healthcare's 565 clinics. DaVita operates or provides administrative services at more than 2,300 dialysis facilities and domestically employs more than 41,000 people.
In 2012, DaVita acquired Healthcare Partners, an owner of physician groups based in California.
In May 2009, DaVita announced it would move its corporate headquarters from El Segundo, California, to Denver. A temporary headquarters that houses more than 300 DaVita employees was leased at 1551 Wewatta Street in Denver’s Lower Downtown (LoDo, Denver) district. In July 2010, DaVita announced it would be building its permanent headquarters adjacent to the Denver Millennium Bridge in LoDo. The new 270,000-square-foot building was completed in 2012 and can house upwards of 900 employees. To accommodate growth while awaiting its new headquarters, DaVita leased a second temporary workspace on 16th Street and Market Street in June 2011.
DaVita chose to relocate to Denver for a variety of reasons including the city’s central location, diverse talent pool, accessibility to mass transit, affordable cost of living, welcoming community and outstanding quality of life. According to company chairman Kent Thiry, “DaVita was looking for two equally important things in its new home. Number one, that we find an environment that was good for the company to pursue its business. Number two, that we find an environment where our people could live great lives.”
DaVita currently employs approximately 1,000 employees in Colorado, more than 700 of whom work in the Metro Denver area.
In late 2015 DaVita announced it was expanding into and would be the primary tenant within a new 19-story office building, to be called 16 Chestnut, directly across 16th Street from the current headquarters. Groundbreaking for 16 Chestnut occurred in June 2016 with a completion anticipated for mid to late 2018.
DaVita has initiated several sustainability programs to reduce the company footprint, and was the only kidney care company recognized by the United States Environmental Protection Agency for its sustainability initiatives. In 2010, DaVita opened the first LEED-certified dialysis center in the U.S., and is currently seeking LEED Gold certification for its new headquarters being built in Denver.
In 2010 DaVita installed solar thermal technology as a trial at one facility in Scottsburg, Indiana Initial analysis of the trial showed a 75 percent reduction in natural gas consumption versus comparable DaVita facilities in the region.
Dialyzer components are made entirely from crude oil, and the non-degradable parts comprise more than 60 million pounds of medical waste annually. Though dialyzer reuse has sparked a controversy in the dialysis industry, DaVita continues to allow patients to choose either single-use dialyzers or reuse, which is estimated to save 8.5 million pounds of medical waste annually.
DaVita also launched a dialyzer recycling pilot with Waste Management, Inc and Becton Dickinson, believed to be the first program of this type.
DaVita has initiated several sustainability programs to reduce the company footprint, and was the only kidney care company recognized by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and Newsweek magazine for its sustainability initiatives.
DaVita works in conjunction with many organizations to raise awareness of chronic kidney disease. DaVita has supported The Kidney TRUST to provide more than 15,000 kidney screenings as part of The Kidney TRUST’s CKD rapid-testing program. The early detection of kidney disease can delay the onset of dialysis and improve the quality of life for patients.
DaVita has been recognized with awards as an employer in Colorado and nationally, and as an employer of veterans.
The DaVita Kidney Rock is a 5K run walk event that raises awareness of chronic kidney disease and funds in support of this cause. The 2011 DaVita Kidney Rock was held in Denver’s City Park and featured complimentary kidney disease screenings for participants by The Kidney TRUST; a health fair; and games and prizes in the Kids Zone.
Tour DaVita is an annual three-day, 250-mile bike ride to raise awareness of and funds for the fight against kidney disease. The fifth annual Tour DaVita was held Sept. 17 – Sept. 20 in Massachusetts, New York and Connecticut. In 2011, Tour DaVita raised $700,000 for the Kidney TRUST.
DaVita teammates engage in Village Service Days by making a positive difference in their local communities. Village Service Days include volunteer activities where DaVita teammates support the work of various local 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations.
The Kidney TRUST was founded in 2006 by DaVita. It is an independent, nonprofit organization that believes everyone should be empowered to take a proactive role in their health. The Kidney TRUST is seeking to reduce the progression of chronic kidney disease (CKD) through free, rapid screening in non-medical settings and providing financial assistance to people affected
Bridge of Life—DaVita Medical Missions is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded by DaVita that provides treatment, education and care to CKD patients in developing countries. Bridge of Life has completed 18 missions, bringing dialysis services to Cameroon, India, Ecuador, Guatemala and the Philippines.
In October 2014 the US Department of Justice announced that DaVita agreed to pay the government $350 million to settle a False Claims Act lawsuit that alleged that DaVita paid kickbacks to receive referrals of patients to its dialysis clinics. DaVita agreed to pay another $39 million in a civil forfeiture related to two specific joint ventures in Denver. As part of the settlement DaVita was required to divest itself of joint ventures and submit to monitoring. The lawsuit alleged that for almost a decade DaVita sought out doctors with a large number of patients with renal disease and offered lucrative joint venture opportunities, violating the state and federal False Claims Act and the federal Anti-Kickback Statute.
A whistleblower (qui tam) lawsuit was brought by David Barbetta, a former DaVita employee. The whistleblower lawsuit, which was filed in 2007, remained under seal for more than three years while the government reviewed the claims. In April 2011, U.S. Attorney Sally Yates informed the parties that the government had declined to join the case. The lawsuit alleges that the protocol for Zemplar allowed for only 2 mg vials of the vitamin D supplement to be used when the prescribed dose was 2 mg or less. But if the prescribed dose was 6 mg, for example, a 10 mg vial — not three 2 mg vials — was to be used, with 4 mg being wasted, the suit said. The suit said if DaVita followed certain sterilization safeguards, the unused medication in the Venofer vials could be used for other patients. The company followed such procedures when using the far more expensive drug Epogen during much of the same time, the suit said. In a statement, DaVita acknowledged that such a practice — called re-entry — was allowed as an option to health-care providers by the government between 2002 and 2008. But since 2008, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have banned it. The agencies have warned that any potential cost savings from allowing multiple syringe draws from a single vial are outweighed by the possible risk of infection.
On November 30, 2012 CNN Health ran a story about accusations of large scale Medicare/Medicaid fraud made against DaVita.
In October 2016, the St. Louis Post Dispatch reported that DaVita had been steering low income dialysis patients to purchase unneeded private medical insurance. Patients were told their private insurance premiums would be subsidized by the American Kidney Fund at no cost to the patient. While providing the same service, dialysis covered by private insurance is much more profitable for DaVita due to lower rates of reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid. The American Kidney Fund subsequently introduced new measures to ensure patients applying for support truly need private insurance, rather than using Medicare or Medicaid.