Kosciusko Home Care & Hospice (KHCH) has merged with Stillwater Hospice amid mounting financial pressures.
The two Indiana-based nonprofit hospices joined forces to ensure continued access to end-of-life care in the Kosciusko County area. High staffing costs were among the forces straining KHCH’s ability to sustain services in that region.
“I look forward to helping shepherd this transition with such like-hearted leadership to ensure Kosciusko residents can access such critical and compassionate care,” KHCH Executive Director Glenn Hall told local news.
The merger was necessary as the price to retain and recruit staff continues to rise, Hall added. KHCH has felt the financial brunt of competing for scarce resources during prolific workforce shortages, he indicated.
KHCH began providing home care services in Warsaw, Indiana, in 1976 before adding hospice care to the mix in 1982. The nonprofit also offers palliative care and has a service region that spans six counties in the area.
KHCH entered the merger with Stillwater Hospice as, “a small agency [struggling] to keep up with the pace of the changes in cost of providing care, employee benefits and all of those things,” Hall said.
All 30 of KHCH’s remaining hospice staff will become Stillwater employees as the two organizations combine. Staff will retain their current pay rate and gain better benefits through the merger, according to Hall.
This brings Stillwater’s staffing ranks to roughly 195 employees. In addition to hospice, the nonprofit also offers palliative care and chronic disease management services. Formerly Visiting Nurse, Stillwater provides services to more than 4,000 patients across 12 counties in Indiana. The hospice operates an inpatient facility that has served upwards of 10,000 patients since opening in 2001.
Hospice utilization among Medicare decedents in Indiana reached a rate of 47.3% in 2020, reported the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO). This falls in line with national averages that hovered at 47.8% that year, according to NHPCO.
Combining with KHCH expands the organization’s presence in the state and adds to its existing services, according to Stillwater CEO Leslie Friedel.
“We just really believe in the goal to serve with compassion and comfort and provide guidance to our families and so we’re so excited to expand that into Kosciusko County along with the team here at Kosciusko Home Care & Hospice,” Friedel said.
Plans are in motion for additional programs following the merger, such as expanded grief support services, Friedell added.
Additionally, Stillwater will grow KHCH’s palliative home care program, a feat that has been a heavy lift to launch during the past year, according to Hall.
“A year ago, Kosciusko Home Care & Hospice tried to launch a palliative home care program,” Hall said. “That has been slow taking off for us. We would love to see those services expanded. … We have space to do some additional programming, so those are all things we’ll look at for the future.”