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Change in Practice at Kavanagh Houses

posted on Wednesday, June 1, 2016

HCI Hospice Care Services is always asking the question, “how can we best address the needs of our patients and their families with our collective resources?”  Recently, that question led to a change in practice at our Des Moines-based hospice houses. 

Only 9 percent of the total patient care provided by HCI Hospice Care Services happens in our hospice houses – the vast majority of hospice care happens where people live (in homes and care facilities).   

For those who need acute, around-the-clock hospice care, we operate two hospice houses in the Des Moines area:  Kavanagh House on 56th Street and Bright Kavanagh House.  Kavanagh House on 56th Street has 15 patient rooms; Bright Kavanagh House can serve up to 24 patients.  However, during the past few years, the average combined census of the two hospice houses has been routinely well below the houses’ total 39-room capacity. With that in mind, HCI Hospice Care Services last month implemented a new practice to focus local inpatient admissions into one facility:  Kavanagh House on 56th Street.

By concentrating staff, volunteers and patients at Kavanagh House on 56th Street, staff time is more focused and less fragmented across two hospice houses, and we are able to maintain a high level of staff interaction with patients and families. Care is improved when surrounded by concentrated resources, so having staff and volunteers consolidated where the need is greatest is a smart use of our human resources and collective expertise. 

Kavanagh House on 56th Street is a beloved community resource. Centrally located, many patients and their families request the facility by name.  The facility has a long history of providing great patient care; in fact, June 1st, 2016, marks the 23rd anniversary of Kavanagh House on 56th Street's opening.

We have not closed the Bright Kavanagh House building; in fact, we continue to use it. It is an important and beautiful asset to our community and a valued presence in East Des Moines.  Staff have an ongoing presence in the facility, and it also hosts various support group meetings. In addition, HCI Care Services is looking into building out the lower level of Bright Kavanagh House to house our administrative teams. The ability to use that space for staff offices was part of the original Bright Kavanagh House plans. (The lower level is a blank canvas that has not yet been utilized for any purpose beyond storage.)

Our Plans Going Forward

  • We are not closing Bright Kavanagh House or making a permanent change. Rather, we have implemented a care practice that allows us to flex to meet the current needs of the community. If inpatient hospice care needs routinely exceed our capacity at our Kavanagh House on 56th Street facility, we will continue to have the ability to care for patients at our Bright Kavanagh House facility. Research shows us that our area’s aging population will eventually need the full capacity of both our Des Moines-based hospice houses, but at present, we’re not there.
  • We have no plans to sell the Bright Kavanagh House property. Our goal is to ensure the facility and its grounds are actively utilized to their best possible extent to continue to serve community-based needs and the betterment of Iowans. 

If you have questions or receive inquiries from the media about Bright Kavanagh House, please contact Linda Clauson, business development & communications director, (515) 271-1308 or email

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