Elaine McIntosh, president and CEO of Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care, says she’s stepping down after 24 years at the helm of the area’s largest nonprofit hospice organization.
McIntosh, 66, will stay on until a successor is found. The hospice’s board has formed a committee to lead a national search.
McIntosh said in a telephone interview that she was leaving the organization in “very strong shape” and decided now was an opportune time to leave.
“It has been an enormous privilege for me to be involved with hospice for nearly 40 years,” she said. “And if you go back 40 years, it was barely an idea but there was a recognition that it was important that we did a better job of taking care of people who weren't going to get better. And one of the great lessons of hospice is that you are aware that time is passing and none of us will be here forever.”
McIntosh, a Kansas City native, said she plans to spend more time with friends and family but otherwise has no firm plans.
“A position like mine and many professional level positions are so all-consuming that it really is difficult to pursue other interests in depth when you are so attentive morning, noon and night to a job that you love,” she said. “And I love my job and I'm going to miss it terribly. But I know that good things come to an end for all of us, and so I just think this is a good time.”
KCH&PC traces its roots to 1980 when several hospitals, including Baptist, Menorah, Park Lane, Research, Saint Mary’s and Trinity, banded together to form and fund it. The organization now has 450 employees. In 2015, it merged with NorthCare Hospice, which operates as a subsidiary.
KCH&PC provides a broad range of services, including hospice care, palliative home care, two camps for children, counseling, grief support, and community and professional education programs. It operates Kansas City Hospice House in south Kansas City, which provides medical and nursing care for patients whose needs can’t be met at home, and Solace House, a grief counseling center.
McIntosh began her career in hospice care in 1977, when she helped found the first hospice in the Pacific Northwest, Hospice of Seattle. Before taking the reins at Kansas City Hospice, she also worked at a hospice in Everett, Washington.
Donna Payne, KCH&PC’s chair, said McIntosh would be missed.
“I was on the board when we hired Elaine 24 years ago,” she said. “That was my first stint on the board. And I will tell you that I’ve never had the opportunity to work with such a talented and gifted and visionary leader in this organization… She is one of those rare breeds of health care leader that everyone should exemplify.”
Payne said KCH&PC had already begun the search for a successor and expects that person to be in place before the end of the year.
Dan Margolies, editor of the Heartland Health Monitor team, is based at KCUR. You can reach him on Twitter @DanMargolies.