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The Beginnings of the Hospice House

"The Hospice House has had a far-reaching impact on our community. It has become a center for bereavement services and grief counseling as well as compassionate end-of-life care for patients and families unable to stay in their home. I am humbled and grateful for the amazing nurses, therapists, chaplains and volunteers who dedicate their lives to hospice."   
— Donna Oldorf, lead donor of $1.1 million 

The beginnings of hospice developed in 1980. Dr. Don Bomkamp, a family practice physician, advocated and sought support to begin a hospice program in Cedar Rapids. After the death of his son, David, from malignant melanoma, Dr. Bomkamp was more determined than ever to allow patients to receive end-of-life care at home. The Sisters of Mercy and Mercy Medical Center stepped forward to help, founding Hospice of Mercy, one of the first programs in the state. According to Dr. Bomkamp, "The biggest asset we had was Mercy Hospital. They were four steps ahead of the entire community. They made it happen."

Dennis and Donna Oldorf Hospice House
315 18th Avenue, Hiawatha, Iowa

Twenty-five years later, a petition drive led by hospice volunteer Bill Elkington collected 3,500 signatures – drawing attention to the need for a hospice facility. This, coupled with a generous gift of $1.1 million from Donna Oldorf in memory of her husband, Dennis, a Hospice of Mercy patient, was the momentum needed to build our area's first and only hospice house.

The Dennis and Donna Oldorf Hospice House of Mercy opened May 29, 2007 after a successful "Sharing the Journey" capital campaign which raised nearly $7 million for the project. A $1.7 million matching grant from the Hall-Perrine Foundation played a significant role in the campaign's success. 

So now "the journey continues." The Oldorf Hospice House has been an asset and resource for so many patients and families needing support, care and counseling. The homelike and serene atmosphere of the house lends itself to a place that families can convene, connect and share. Many ask for ways to memorialize loved ones or honor hospice workers. Gifts go to support the many services the hospice house provides. 


Donations to the Hospice House should be mailed to:

Mercy Foundation
701 Tenth Street SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52403

Donations of $1,000 qualify the donor to inscribe a brick to be placed in the hospice house courtyard or meditation pathway. Memorial gifts totaling $5,000 or more will be recognized on the hospice donor wall entitled, "The Journey Continues." 

For more information please call the Foundation office at (319) 398-6206.

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Oldorf Hospice House of Mercy

  • The Beginnings of the Hospice House
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