My Trip to Fort Madison


A new Iowa state law requiring physicians to have training in end of life care and pain management prompted the Fort Madison Community Hospital to invite me to give two hours of lectures and workshops today at the hospital. Their hospital has 50 inpatient beds and a strong community hospice.

It was a beautiful ride south to Fort Madison. This is the route my grandfather took in 1934 on a wintry day. He lost control of his car and died. The promising University of Iowa researcher planned to talk about liver disease to physicians in Mount Pleasant, Iowa.  I drive carefully on this road.


The audience included people from many disciplines, including chaplains, nurses and physicians.  It is always a challenge to engage a multidisciplinary audience, but the two hours passed quickly with an opiate problem solving workshop that Dr. Lee Kral and I designed over a decade ago to prevent sentinel events with opiates.  During the second hour, I presented the common symptoms at the end of life using video clips from patients, who can describe their symptoms better than any physicians can.

Here’s a few of my favorite things from my trip. What a surprise that a state law would bring a day of such richness:

  • The wintry brown countryside with cumulus clouds and outlines of farmhouses
  • The warm welcome from the staff at Fort Madison.
  • The news that Fort Madison Community Hospital is starting a palliative care program.  (Perhaps Iowa will become an “A” state on the Center to Advance Palliative Care website.) 
  • Hall’s ice cream parlor, which allows adults to have a kiddie-sized shake, is in its 29th year in Fort Madison.


  • The longest swing/pivot bridge in the world:  


I could make a habit of these therapeutic road trips!


2 thoughts on “My Trip to Fort Madison

  1. You should write poetry, your description of the beautiful things you saw was inspiring. What a GREAT background picture – I have never seen the whole pix, awesome. Thanks for sharing. Marcy

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