Greater Regional to exit business of hospice care

Good news: HCI will lease GRMC Hospice Home beginning March 1 and continue providing quality hospice care. Bad news: At least nine employees to lose their job during transition

Greater Regional Medical Center (GRMC) announced Monday they are exiting the business of hospice services effective Feb. 28.

Why?

GRMC officials said Monday offering hospice care services has hurt the hospital financially — especially the past couple of years.

LouAnn Snodgrass — GRMC executive director, continuum of care — said Monday the struggles financially are a result of growth in competition for hospice patients in southwest Iowa, declining reimbursements and increased regulation.

“For all those reasons, costs were escalating in the hundreds of thousands in loss each year,” Snodgrass said about hospice care services, “and no matter how many efficiencies we put in place we weren’t able to break even.”

Those financial struggles forced GRMC to begin searching for a partner with the ability to provide quality hospice services at the Greater Regional Medical Center Hospice Home and throughout southwest Iowa well into the future.

Monday they announced their partner as HCI Care Services of Iowa.

GRMC will continue to own Greater Regional Hospice Home. They will lease the hospice home to HCI beginning March 1 to provide hospice services for the patients in southwest Iowa.

“We looked at several partners,” Snodgrass said, “but we selected HCI because they really embraced the idea of maintaining the hospice home in Creston. They are a leader in hospice and palliative (pain relief) care across Iowa and the United States.”

GRMC liked that HCI — founded in 1978 — currently operates two hospice homes in Des Moines, but also had expertise in rural areas with satellite offices in both Mount Ayr and Osceola. HCI serves 35 counties in Iowa and averages more than 1,500 patients each year.

“This is a partnership,” said Tray Wade, senior vice president at HCI Care Services. “The hospice house (in Creston) will never be a big money maker, but what we have is two parties that came together to continue to ensure this region will have quality hospice care for the long term.”

Snodgrass said all current patients at Greater Regional Hospice will be assisted in transitioning their services to a provider of their choice during the month of February.

Job loss

This transition of service to HCI does not come without job loss, though. Snodgrass said at least nine GRMC employees will lose their jobs and four others will be “bumped back” to jobs they had previously in the organization.

“That’s the most difficult part of this,” Snodgrass said, “but we believe the skills and talents they have will serve them well when they go out and look for other job opportunities.”

Wade said there will be some opportunities available for those losing their job within HCI, but retaining all of them is unlikely.

What about volunteers?

Those volunteering inside the GRMC Hospice Home are asked to consider still volunteering at the hospice home when HCI takes over in March.

GRMC officials remind volunteers they still own the building and grounds, therefore, volunteers currently assisting with maintenance of the grounds and garden may continue to volunteer with GRMC.

Money raised?

All contributions to the foundation designated for Greater Regional Hospice and the hospice home will continue to be designated for those purposes. As the hospice home needs replacement equipment and or enhancements, those contributions will be utilized to fund those needs.

What about fundraising events and pavers?

At this point, GRMC’s foundation anticipates continuing the Tree of Life, Ride for Hospice and other fundraising events with proceeds supporting the hospice home as done in the past.

GRMC will continue to make the engraved pavers. Again, with all proceeds supporting the hospice home as done in the past.

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Greater Regional Hospice Home is located northeast of the GRMC Medical Center.

The home was built in 2008. It features private suites for patients and families, a complete family kitchen, meditation room, children’s play areas and whirlpool therapy spa for patient care.

Services offered are skilled nursing care, hospice aids, medical social workers and more.