Cornerstone Hospice & Palliative Care, Inc., a free-standing, independent, not-for-profit corporation, is a provider member of both Florida Hospices & Palliative Care, Inc. (FHPC) and the National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO). While neither organization governs our agency, both allow members to communicate with each other and seek solutions to common problems.
In 1981, a group of Eustis residents first envisioned a hospice organization to serve Lake County. At a November 3, 1983 organizational meeting, the dream became a reality with the support of Waterman Medical Center in Eustis. Lake Hospice was created and a Board was elected. By spring 1984, the first class of volunteers graduated leading the way for Lake Hospice to be State licensed in June 1985 to provide comprehensive hospice services to the community. In 1986, the State increased our service area to include Sumter County.
Our growing organization has continually expanded its programs to better serve the needs of the communities. A Quality Assurance Program was instituted in 1988. Also in 1988, the Hospice Foundation was incorporated. It has contributed funds for building hospice houses and up fitting facility units/bed, providing patient-care ancillary services, and supporting many community outreach programs, including bereavement.
In February 1991, Hospice moved from its rental location in a shopping center into its newly constructed Hospice Center just south of Tavares. Later that year, the Tavares Hospice House with six beds opened next door to the Center. It was the second hospice house built in the State. It is now the oldest, free-standing hospice house in Florida.
With more growth, in 2002 Hospice of Lake & Sumter, doing business as Cornerstone Hospice, admitted its first patient in Polk County. Our second hospice house of 12 beds opened in The Villages in the summer of 2003. 2004 saw our agency expand services into Orange and Osceola counties. With the growth and expansion came the need for a marketing department which was created in late 2003/early 2004. More hospice houses were planned. The Mike Conley Hospice House in Clermont opened its 10 beds in October 2007; and The Lane Purcell Hospice House in Sumterville opened its 8 beds late 2008. In counties where we do not operate hospice houses, we have partnered with local facilities to provide inpatient beds and/or units.
To create a unified agency for marketing purposes, in April 2008 our name was enhanced. “Hospice of Lake & Sumter” became “Cornerstone Hospice” for better awareness in all seven counties we serve. Cornerstone Hospice and Palliative Care, Inc. became the official name of our agency in 2010.
Our agency has been recognized with prestigious industry awards, many Community Service Awards, and the Best Places to Work designation. From FHPC, we won program Awards of Excellence for our Tuck-InTM and Mike Barnett’s Camp Adventure. In 2006 Lou Acuff, RN, CHPN, won its Hospice Spirit Award. NHPCO in September 2005 chose our President/CEO, Pat Lehotsky, as the national Heart of Hospice Award honoree. Don Schumacher, President/CEO, NHPCO, presented the award to Pat. In January 2010, he honored our hospice with a rare visit to a local hospice.
The dedicated staff and volunteers of Cornerstone Hospice and Palliative Care, Inc., are the source of excellence for our organization. Their creative ideas and exceptional patient care will move our agency forward in the years to come.