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Helping Iowans Live and Die at Home in SW Iowa

posted on Thursday, March 2, 2017

Hospice With Heart, a Council Bluff-based program of HCI Care Services and Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa, will be growing its efforts to better serve people where they live in southwest Iowa. While the community-based hospice program has a six-county service area, in past years, nearly all patients and families served by the program since 2004 have lived in Pottawattamie and Mills counties.

As part of the non-profit program’s increased efforts to empower people to live and die in the place they call home, Hospice With Heart will be closing its hospice house in Glenwood – likely by March 31st. The program will focus its efforts on serving more patients in their homes, and in a wider service area.

Hospice With Heart’s hospice care in people’s homes will continue, and the team will be growing its efforts to better serve patients and families throughout southwest Iowa.

“The Hospice With Heart team provides wonderful care to our patients and families, and we look forward to many more years of helping people live and die with dignity in the place they call home,” says Tray Wade, president and CEO of HCI Care Services and Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa, a 109-year-old non-profit health and human services organization. Hospice With Heart has been part of the community-based organization and its hospice program since 2014.

Wade added that last year, the organization’s multiple hospice teams – which collectively serve a 41-county area and offer three hospice houses – provided only 8 percent of hospice patient days in a hospice house, while 92 percent of hospice patient days were delivered in homes. Wade also says the Hospice With Heart Hospice House has not been broadly utilized, historically serving less than 50 patients at the house annually.

“It was an incredibly difficult decision to close the hospice house, and it only came after carefully scrutinizing how the facility has been used,” Wade says. “We found that while our past hospice facility patients all benefited from our compassionate care, many had care needs which – while hospice-appropriate – were not always aligned with the high-acuity, short-term use for which hospice houses are intended.” 

“What this tells us is that when people in this area are facing the end of life, they are often able to do so from the comfort of home – or they are able to find a new home in a compassionate long-term care facility,” says Wade.

Hospice With Heart team director Kristy Razee shared that the Hospice With Heart team will be working with each patient at the hospice house during the coming weeks to develop individual care plans which best address their needs while ensuring the highest quality care.

“Our top priority is the care and comfort of our patients, and we want to make this change as seamless as possible for those we serve.” Razee says. Depending on their individual care needs, Razee said some patients at the hospice house may live out their final days at the facility, while others may be transferred to long-term care facilities where they may continue to receive home-based hospice care from the Hospice With Heart team.

“We are fortunate to work with many quality care partners who can offer assistance during this process, as we work with patients and families to find the best home-like environments during their end-of-life care,” Razee says.

In the meantime, new admissions directly to the hospice house have been halted; instead, the Hospice With Heart team will help patients, families and referral sources receive hospice care where they live or offer assistance in finding new homes – and supportive hospice care services from Hospice With Heart – at area long-term care facilities.

Please email info@hci-vns.org to share any questions or concerns regarding the Glenwood hospice house or for general inquiries about HCI Care Services and Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa.