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Iowa River Hospice Gives Families Peace of Mind

Low patient-to-staff ratio ensures patients and families receive personalized care.

By Livability on August 11, 2022

Iowa River Hospice
Courtesy of Iowa River Hospice

At the end of Carolyn Koll’s life, she was in the familiar setting of her own home, comforted by the love of her husband, Bruce, their six children and caregivers from Iowa River Hospice who Bruce calls “her angels.” 

Carolyn Koll

“This was the time of COVID. My wife was home, which made a big difference,” Bruce says. “We could be with her. They were so good to her. We all knew the end result of all this, but it was so comforting.” 

He was unsure where to turn for help following Carolyn’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. Their parish priest urged him to call Iowa River Hospice, the area’s local hospice. 

Iowa River Hospice was founded in 1983 by volunteers who saw a need for end-of-life care for patients and their families driven by love and compassion, not profits. 

“We are here because of our heart,” says volunteer Coordinator Pamela Wells. 

Since 1983, Iowa River Hospice has admitted 5,689 patients, including 1,485 patients admitted to the in-patient hospice home. That state-of-the-art, six-bed facility in Marshalltown opened in 2009. 

“Iowa River Hospice is a nonprofit hospice that is not managed by corporate stakeholders,” says Executive Director Emily Carson. “Our board of directors are our neighbors who are volunteering their time.” 

The hospice’s 46 professional team members have a combined 285 years of experience. The medical director and the pharmacist have been volunteering their time and expertise for about 20 years. An average day finds the team caring for 36 patients and their families. 

That low patient-to-staff ratio ensures patients and families receive personalized care. Because all team members live within the hospice’s 40-mile service area, which includes Marshall and Tama counties and portions of Grundy, Hardin, Story and Jasper counties, they can respond quickly regardless of the time of day when patients and their families need assistance. 

That was a blessing when Leah Mattox’s mother-in-law, Clare, passed early one morning. Their nurse, who had gone to high school with Leah’s daughter, came to Clare’s assisted living facility at 11 p.m. and returned at 5 a.m. the next morning. 

“She went above and beyond,” Leah says. “She was with us at the very end to make sure it was as peaceful as possible for Clare.” 

Clare Mattox
Courtesy of Iowa River Hospice
Clare Mattox

The family was relieved that Clare could receive hospice care in the familiar surroundings of her memory care facility without moving to the more institutional setting of a skilled nursing home. Knowing the hospice house was available also gave them peace of mind. 

Having a personal relationship with the team members at Iowa River Hospice gave them a feeling of confidence. 

“Everywhere we turned, we had that hometown feeling of people we knew and who knew Clare,” Leah adds. “It was wonderful to be able to have your loved one pass and it be as peaceful as possible.” 

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