Iowa River Hospice celebrated National Hospice and Palliative Care Month Thursday morning with a Marshalltown Area Chamber of Commerce ribbon average, and Registered Nurse and Executive Director Emily Carson was delighted to celebrate an important month and showcase the organization.
Located in Marshalltown since 1983, IRH is one of the nation’s first Medicare- and Medicaid-funded hospices. Carson said it couldn’t thrive without the love and support of the community.
“Without the love of the community, this hospice would not exist. I think the end of life is very, very difficult and this is a safe place and I don’t think this is just a place it’s a mission and I think we can give that to anyone who needs hospice care,” he said Carson . “I think it’s important for people to know that this is a gem that we have in Marshalltown.”
Jody Anderson, vice president of the IRH board and Anderson funeral home owner and director, said the fact that the hospice is in Marshalltown automatically makes it a good choice for local nursing homes, as the response time is often faster than a hospice in an outdoor area if this were the case are badly needed.
The hospice building itself has six patient rooms, so most of the care provided by IRH is in the form of home visits, with nurses and staff visiting patient apartments and nursing homes as needed.
“People want their loved ones in their homes and we are primed for that. We are able to send (staff) to your home in a timely manner. We’re not sending them over here from Cedar Rapids, or Cedar Falls, or Des Moines. They come here from Marshalltown and the response time is tremendous,” Anderson said.
Anderson said IRH employs staff who are reasonably close proximity to Marshalltown, which means they are often members of the community themselves and putting money back into the local economy.
“There’s a lot of good hospices out there, no doubt, but they’re our people, so why not support the local community?” asked Anderson.
While certain nursing homes have their own hospice care, Anderson said IRH can still be requested if a patient or family would prefer it. You just need to discuss it with the nursing home management.
IRH serves patients within a 40-mile radius of Marshalltown, and Carson said they also value patient-staff ratios to ensure the best possible care for the individuals they serve. At any given time, they typically have between 35 and 37 patients, but Carson said that number fluctuates.
“We also want to make sure our relationship between staff and family is the patient – that’s very important, we really emphasize that because when you have 10, 15 patients you can’t really provide that one on one care, really important at this time in a person’s life,” Carson said.
Carson wants Marshalltown residents to see IRH as an accessible option for care, and she said it’s so much more than just a place. She also addressed a common misconception that she has noticed. There is often a misconception that someone who stays in hospice has to stay there indefinitely, but that is not the case.
“We have people who are here for five days, they may have an uncontrolled symptom. Make them feel better and they can go home, so we meet the patient, the family, where they are,” Carson said.
IRH is also staffed with dedicated volunteers, and Carson said they play a big part in keeping the hospice running smoothly. One volunteer, Cindy Brodin, who is also an IRH board member, has prepared and delivered Thanksgiving dinners for the hospice for several years.
“The volunteers are so important. I mean they give camaraderie. We use their talents. One of our volunteers is here in the inpatient unit today and they have the biggest hearts,” Carson said.
To learn more about volunteering at IRH, visit https://www.iowariverhospice.org/hospice-care/volunteer-program/. The facility is located at 502 Plaza Heights Rd.
Contact Susanna Meyer at 641-753-6611 or [email protected]