News and Updates

Below are the latest news and updates from Cornerstone Hospice. Be sure to check out our events section for a calendar of our upcoming events and volunteer opportunities.

She’s 104 and Ready to Party.

November was National Hospice Month and Margaret Scarfia staged a celebration of her own. With help from the folks at the Serenades Assisted Living Facility in The Villages, Florida, Margaret turned 104 surrounded by family and friends. Her daughter, Rosemary Scarfia, says about 22 people attend her Nov. 28 party, many traveling from out of town.

“It was a real celebration with balloons, food provided by Serenades, and drinks,” Rosemary said. “We definitely had wine. My mother likes her wine. And a cheesecake with whipped cream and strawberries.”

Asked about any secrets her mother may have about living to be 104, Rosemary says, “she lives one day at a time and just enjoys life. She always has a wide circle of friends and is very happy, very social. She lived independently in St. Petersburg (Florida) until she was 100-and-a-half and drove until she was 97!”

Margaret entered into the care of the team from Cornerstone Hospice in April 2013.

“We wanted to make her more comfortable and the Cornerstone team that’s taking care of her has been outstanding,” Rosemary said. “They’ve answered all of my questions, been very communicative, very well informed. They’ve been very supportive of my mother and our whole family. Cornerstone Hospice and Palliative Care truly is a wonderful organization and we should all be thrilled that an organization like this exists.”

Posted on Wed, 3 Dec 2014

Cornerstone Salutes One Of The Great Generation

Garry DeBoer was always “squared away,” a trait no doubt he learned in his time with the U.S. Army in World War II. So, it was not a surprise that, after he was diagnosed with cancer, he began planning for the time he might need hospice care several years before the fact. Always independent, Garry lived alone up to the time his bout with the illness finally confined him to a motorized wheelchair. But eventually, when his physician told him it was time, that he needed to consider hospice support, Garry was ready. He was one step ahead of everyone.


A Purple Heart recipient, Garry was extremely proud of his time in service of our country and found an extended, welcoming family with other American veterans at AMVETS Post 1992 in Mount Dora. One of his great delights was playing bugle in their Honor Guard. The Cornerstone SALUTES team was honored to conduct a pinning ceremony for Garry with all of his AMVETS family in attendance at their annual Chili Cook-off in October. Many in the Lodge were surprised to learn just how many WWII vets they had in their membership!


Garry DeBoer passed away Saturday, August 30, 2014 at the age of 91 years. Garry is

remembered and will be dearly missed by his daughters, Deborah McKay of Leesburg and Denise (Christopher) Patterson of Passaic, NJ; brothers, Everett (Elizabeth) DeBoer of Lady Lake, FL and Edward (Hao) DeBoer of Leesburg; 3 grandchildren, Wendy Merendino of Lawrenceville, NJ, Christopher McKay of Peachtree City, GA and Matthew Patterson of Clifton, NJ and 6 great-grandchildren.

Posted on Tue, 16 Sep 2014

Cornerstone Salutes Lt. J.G. Robert Longson Naval Aviator and WWII Veteran

Robert “Bob” Longson was in high school in Newark, N.J. when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. He waited almost exactly a year, until he graduated in December of 1942, to enlist in the U.S. Navy. His timing could not have been better. The Navy needed pilots and had created the Aviation Cadet Training Program to help fill their ranks. Bob was an excellent student, in prime physical condition and the Training Program was glad to have him. Over the next couple of years, Bob’s training took him all over the United States. He took courses at various colleges, attended aircraft manufacturers classrooms and the Navy’s own flight training program. He earned his wings on January 16, 1945 and received his commission as a US Naval Aviation Officer with the rank of Ensign. He immediately hitched a ride on the battleship USS Pennsylvania, bound for the spot where the war began for the U.S.—the Naval Air Station at Pearl Harbor. Once there, he began logging flight time in an observation aircraft, the Vought Kingfisher. Launched by catapult from the fantails of battleships and cruisers, the Kingfisher performed scouting missions, spotted targets and aided in sea rescues. When its mission was over, the pontoon-equipped plane would land in the water, to be hoisted back aboard its ship like a giant fish caught in a huge net. Bob’s duty station was the light cruiser, USS Vicksburg. He was released from active duty aboard the Vicksburg on December 7, 1945—four years to the day after Japan’s treacherous sneak attack.



Posted on Tue, 29 Jul 2014

New Cornerstone Hospice Call Center provides round-the-clock care

Tavares, Fla. (February 26, 2014) – For a caregiver whose loved one is dealing with a life-limiting illness, nights and weekends can seem especially long. If the patient is very uncomfortable or symptoms seem out of the ordinary, the ability to speak to a “live person,” instead of an answering service, can bring tremendous comfort to the family member and patient.

 Cornerstone Hospice and Palliative Care now operates an afterhours Call Center, staffed by registered nurses who specialize in triage. The experienced hospice nurses field calls from Cornerstone patients and families across the organization’s seven-county region.

 “The Triage nurses provide support for families and are able to reassure the callers,” said Desiree Kalarovich, RN, Cornerstone Hospice Call Center and on call Supervisor. “We had many surprised patients and caregivers when they find out nurses are answering the phones and they don’t need to leave a message for someone to call back. We could hear the smiles over the phone lines.”

 The Triage nurses can provide symptom management to patients and families and are in contact with the Cornerstone physicians on call if needed, sometimes avoiding a trip to the emergency room.

 The call center team can dispatch medical personnel as well as other members of the Cornerstone Hospice interdisciplinary team, such as social workers and chaplains, if necessary to meet the family’s needs.

 “At the end of each shift, the Triage team sends a report to each of the Hospice teams to apprise them of the calls and visits that occurred after hours ensuring seamless care 24/7,” said Kalarovich.

 The new call center is located at Cornerstone Hospice’s Southridge office in Tavares, off of County Road 561.

Posted on Thu, 6 Mar 2014

Cornerstone Hospice SALUTES! retired military service dog

Please watch the video stories about this Cornerstone SALUTES! which aired on Lake Sumter TV and on LakeFront TV.

Tavares, Fla., January 31, 2014 – Idol Vom Haus Huro’s life is dedicated to service. The three and a half year-old German shepherd was specially trained to help his veteran owner anticipate and deal with the symptoms associated with traumatic brain injury seizures and post-traumatic stress disorder.

 “Idol” achieved the rank of Sergeant First Class in the U.S. Army and served with his owner at Fort Drum in New York as part of the 4th Battalion 31st Infantry Regiment. When Army Staff Sergeant Basil Reid, was unable to keep the dog any longer, Idol received official completion of duties from the military including all awards and honors due any other soldier for his service.

 Now living in Lake County with his new owner, Idol’s life of service continues but with a focus on serving veterans who are on their end-of-lifejourney./public/images/Idol Salutes.website1.jpg

 Today, Cornerstone Hospice and Palliative Care honored Idol with a Cornerstone SALUTES! ceremony where the canine was recognized for his service and received a special commemorative pin. Idol, along with his new owner, Missy Ziler who is a trained hospice volunteer, will visit veteran patients in Cornerstone Hospice care and their families providing comfort and enjoyment.

 SSG Reid was also honored in absence.

 “Already Idol has won the hearts of veterans in the community who have met him,” said Ziler, who received Idol in May 2013. “His calming and affectionate disposition will be a wonderful comfort to the veterans we visit who are in hospice care.” 

 Established in 2010, the Cornerstone SALUTES!  program, honors local veterans with a ceremony, led by a specially-trained U.S. veteran volunteer, tailor-made for the veteran patient and family. During the ceremony, the veteran patient is presented with a special pin and Certificate of Appreciation. Approximately 25-30 ceremonial pinnings are held each month throughout Cornerstone Hospice’s seven-county region and that number is expected to increase.

 The Cornerstone SALUTES! program is accredited through the We Honor Veterans program, a national initiative in collaboration with the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

“With one out of every four dying Americans being a U.S. veteran, Cornerstone Hospice has made a concerted effort to ensure these heroes receive the honor, dignity and medical care they deserve,” said Chuck Lee, Cornerstone Hospice CEO. “We are proud to now have Idol on the Cornerstone Hospice team of dedicated staff and volunteers – who are also veterans – that provide specialized recognition to local men and women who have served our country.”

In addition to volunteering with Cornerstone Hospice, Ziler founded Companions for Courage, a non-profit organization made up of volunteers and their therapy dogs that provide courage and companionship to children who must give difficult testimony in the courtroom. Idol has also been approved to help give courage to children in need.

Posted on Fri, 31 Jan 2014