Two nonprofit organizations, Iowa City Hospice and the Visiting Nurse Association of Johnson County, are in the process of merging. The combined company’s service lines will offer a continuum of care from birth through the end-of-life.
VNA Executive Director Sue Novotny is retiring, and Iowa City Hospice Executive Director Karla Kamal will take the helm of the merged entity, which will serve eight Iowa counties.
“Iowa City Hospice and the VNA are both non-profit organizations that share a commitment to serving the community. Health care in the home should be provided by people who know and understand a community. These organizations are both deeply rooted in our region,” Kamal told Hospice News. “Both Iowa City Hospice and the VNA have strong positive brand recognition in our area. This will provide a wonderful starting point for the new organization.
While the budgets of the two merging parties will be integrated with one another, no payment was made by either organization to the other as a part of this merger.
This is not the first time the two organizations considered a merger. The VNA Board of Directors first approached the Iowa City Hospice board several years ago, but the providers felt that the timing was not right.Both boards revisited the prospect in early 2020 and have spent the last eight months in negotiations and conducting due diligence research, an Iowa City Hospice spokesperson told Hospice News in an email.
While the providers are not rebranding immediately, plans are in the works to create an umbrella “care community” organization under which each service — Iowa City Hospice, Supportive Care (Iowa City Hospice’s home palliative care program) and VNA of Johnson County — can retain its identity.
Iowa City Hospice’s current seven-county service area covers 3,955 square miles, covering two of Iowa’s most populated counties, as well as some of its most rural. VNA of Johnson County primarily serves Johnson County, though it does accept occasional outside patients.
Hospice utilization in Iowa reached 56.2% among Medicare decedents in 2018, according to the National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization, compared to a national average of slightly more than 50%. Utah leads the national at 60.5%
“I am excited to be able to lead these organizations into the future and to strengthen the support that is available in our community to those who choose to receive care in their home,” Kamal said. “I respect the VNA and have worked alongside them in various ways during my 30+ year career in Iowa City.”