History of Kavanagh House

Central Iowans began embracing home hospice care in 1977 when a pint-sized, bicycle-riding nun named Sister Eve Kavanagh came to Des Moines. A nurse and native of Ireland, Sister Eve had a mission to create specialized care for thedying. Her message was embraced by a small yet passionate group of volunteers in Des Moines. In 1978 Hospice of Central Iowa (now EveryStep) received non-profit status and began providing home hospice care for individuals and their families. After providing home-based hospice care to patients for more than a decade, the organization realized the need for a 24-hour residential facility to serve hospice patients and families. An innovative 12-bed hospice house opened in 1993 on 56th Street in Des Moines. It was named Kavanagh House to recognize Sister Eve’s contribution as the enthusiastic nurse and educator who introduced hospice care to Central Iowa.

“When you give with your heart to something that is important to you, you never lose, you only gain. You only gain," said Sister Eve.

Stories of Kavanagh House
“Hospice was with our family during the entire journey of preparing my mother, for heaven. They laughed with us and cried with us. They provided a place that Nani described as a ‘vacation’ before going to heaven. What a blessing.” -Liliana Water, Family Member
The terminally ill body needs a chance to just slow down on its own — and without pain. Kavanagh House is patient-centered — the patient gets to be the boss!” -Jerry Jewett, Former Patient
"My dad was a retired Des Moines cop who battled cancer for 18 years. He spent a lot of time in hospitals and he liked the feeling of Kavanagh House because it felt like a home. It was our home for 26 days, and it changed us as a family.” -Chris Haviland, Family Member
"As a non-profit we put mission first – a mission to provide dignity, compassion and quality care for everyone that comes into our home. When the need for capital investments surfaced, we knew we couldn’t let the community down. Our home has been the last home for so many in our community.” -Tray Wade, EveryStep President & CEO
“Kavanagh House provides support and care at a time when patients and families need it most — at the end of life. It is a treasure to our community and should be enhanced for decades yet to come.” -Kerry Adaway, EveryStep Foundation Board Chair
“Kavanagh House holds a special place in my heart. I love that it is truly home for those who are terminally ill. It is essential for families to have a place for their loved ones to go to die with dignity and compassion.” -Suzie Glazer-Burt, Emeritus Board and Honorary Campaign Chair
“As a retired registered nurse, volunteering for Kavanagh House allows me to give back to my community and help provide comfort to patients and families who are facing the most difficult time in their life. I love the peaceful setting and central location.” -Deb Milligan, Campaign Co-Chair