Communities in southern Minnesota are working to help Allina Health find a sustainable path forward following the recent closure of its inpatient hospice facility.
Minneapolis-based Allina Health built the Homestead Hospice House in 2005, which served both Owatonna and Steele county communities in the state before recently shuttering.
The nonprofit health system’s inpatient center provided important end-of-life care and respite services to these communities, according to Kasey Kamholz, board of directors president of the Homestead Hospice House.
Its closure has been met with rising concern about the lack of hospice support for patients and families in need of general inpatient care, he stated.
“The Homestead Hospice House board of directors are deeply disappointed and saddened with Allina Health’s recent decision to close their inpatient residential hospice program,” Kamholz said in a statement. “We have heard from hundreds of community members and know there is an active concern to re-establish the Homestead Hospice House as a home for the terminally ill in this community.”
In addition to Minnesota, Allina Health also serves western Wisconsin. All told, the nonprofit operates 12 hospitals and more than 100 specialty care sites.
Allina Health has 28,500 employees and 3,200 community volunteers. In addition to hospice and palliative care, the health system also provides primary, urgent and emergency care, surgical and rehabilitative services, mental health, among other health care services.
Labor strains and financial headwinds have led to a spate of inpatient hospice closures in recent years.
The interdisciplinary and back-office staff involved in general inpatient care has been a heavy operational and financial lift for some hospices amid widespread workforce shortages and rising care delivery costs. These facilities provide 24/7 services to patients, respite care for families and help facilitating hospice admissions from hospital and physician referrals, as well as facility-based patients.
“The Homestead Hospice House has also been the home offices for Allina Health’s Owatonna hospice and home care services staff members,” Kamholz stated. “We will also miss offering them a beautiful space in which to work, as well as a place where patients and family members can gather with their loved ones.”
The health system is currently engaging community members for their insight as it considers how to move forward with the closure, he indicated.
“At this time, the Homestead Hospice House community board is figuring out what to do next,” Kamholz said. “We invite community members to share their ideas with us.”