To the editor:
Prairie Home Hospice has received numerous questions recently regarding Avera Marshall's intentions to pursue providing hospice services and would like to respond to the questions we are receiving from the community.
We have met with Avera's President and CEO and with members of their Executive Committee, who indicated that it is their intention to pursue providing hospice care in this area sometime in the coming year. In our meetings with Avera Marshall's leadership, we were clear about our standards of transparency and our intentions to be open and honest with the community regarding this issue.
Prairie Home Hospice is a small independent nonprofit organization that was built by the communities we serve, and has been strongly supported by those communities for 28 years. We have touched the lives of many patients and families and are a part of the fabric of this community. Hundreds of community volunteers have provided thousands of hours of service and are an integral part of Prairie Home Hospice. Their commitment, support and caring reflects a community that embraces compassion. Every year, the community demonstrates exceptional partnership and support through donations, memorials, and support for our fundraising efforts. This supports about 20 percent of our operating budget, and allows us to provide hospice services to all those in need, regardless of their ability to cover the full cost of those services.
We have been very honest with Avera Marshall's leadership with respect to our disappointment with their decision to pursue providing hospice services in this community. Our disappointment is not with the staff that provides good care as employees of Avera. We work with them every day and consider them to be our partners in caring for patients. Our disappointment lies with the leadership of Avera, who made the decision to compete with a small, community-driven nonprofit, that has served the community and region well for 28 years.
If this were about two businesses competing for profits in a competitive market environment, it would be different. But Avera Marshall and Prairie Home Hospice are both nonprofit organizations, whose first responsibility should be to the communities we serve. While competition between profitable business entities may benefit the community in some ways, competition between two nonprofit organizations serving the same patients and relying on the same shrinking health care dollar, is not beneficial to the community or those we serve.
Over the years, Prairie Home Hospice has worked closely with numerous health care providers in the area, partnering to provide transition to hospice care as seamlessly as possible. While we always strive to improve on quality, the community's strong support for Prairie Home Hospice and the feedback we receive from those we've served reflects a high level of satisfaction. We have done a good job of meeting the needs of those who seek hospice services in the community and don't see a need for another hospice provider in the community.
In the past year, Avera Marshall extended a hand of partnership to Prairie Home Hospice, offering a "Partner in Health" agreement. At the time, Prairie Home Hospice was without an Executive Director, faced a year of losses, and needed to respond to changes in the health care environment we operate in. Avera Marshall staff helped us to identify areas of change that were necessary. We entered into this agreement with Avera with the expectation that this would be a temporary arrangement, and made it clear that it was our intention to remain an independent organization.
Thanks in part to our partnership with Avera, we were able to regain the financial stability we have enjoyed throughout our history. Having hired a new executive director in April, we expressed our gratitude to Avera for the assistance they provided and indicated that while we were grateful for the services they provided through the agreement, we were very capable of managing on our own once again. Given the partnership we had, we were very surprised and disappointed by Avera's decision just weeks later to pursue providing hospice services.
We are confident that our strong history of providing quality hospice care in the community, the strong support we continue to receive from the community, the strong partnerships we have built, and the number of lives we have touched will allow us to continue to be the hospice provider of choice in the community.
As a nonprofit organization serving the community, Prairie Home Hospice values transparency and an open relationship with the community. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us. We value the partnerships we have within the health care community and will always seek to cultivate positive relationships in the community.
John Allen, President
Pat Mellenthin, Executive Director
On behalf of the Prairie Home Hospice Board of
Directors and Prairie Home Hospice