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.

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 Announces Organizational Changes

Operations, compliance and marketing roles reflect organization’s mission to meet the growing need for hospice services.

Tavares, Fla. (March 5, 2014) – Cornerstone Hospice and Palliative Care has announced the following leadership changes within the organization.

/public/images/Rhonda White2012.web.jpg Rhonda White, CHC, MPH, BSW, Chief Operations Officer: Previously Cornerstone Hospice’s Vice President and Compliance Officer, White assumed the COO role on March 1 with the impending retirement of Mary Manrique.  White, who resides in Lakeland, has worked for Cornerstone Hospice for six of her 15-year professional career.

 At Cornerstone Hospice she oversaw the compliance office ensuring all departments follow state and federal regulations. Her previous responsibilities fully prepared her for understanding the needs of the overall operations of the organization. White received her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work and Masters in Public Health from the University of South Florida. Her first hospice job at age 19 as a social worker intern prompted her to pursue her career within a hospice organization. She notes that her family has personally benefitted from hospice services.

 Mary Manrique will remain at Cornerstone Hospice until June 30 as a consultant until her retirement takes effect.

 /public/images/Donna Loyko1.jpgDonna Loyko, RN, MSN, HCRM, CHC, VP and Compliance Officer: Loyko, previously Risk Manager at Cornerstone Hospice, became VP and Compliance Officer on March 1. She brings more than 30 years of nursing experience as well as Risk Management and leadership in home care, hospice and corrections health care. Loyko, who lives in Clermont, will monitor Cornerstone Hospice departments to ensure compliance as well as quality measurements. Loyko will be responsible for helping to identify and implement best practices across the organization so that Cornerstone Hospice can provide the best patient care possible. Loyko received a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing from Florida Southern College and a Master’s degree from the University of Phoenix. Her Risk Management license was received from the University of Central Florida.


/public/images/TanyaHolcomb.mmi.jpgTanya Holcomb, MBA, Controller – Holcomb joins Cornerstone Hospice with 17 years of experience guiding teams in financial analysis, reporting, forecasting, auditing, budgeting and cash management for service and healthcare industries. In addition to overseeing finance departments, Holcomb and her husband have had the opportunity of owning their own business.

 Holcomb, who resides in Yalaha, comes to Cornerstone Hospice from The Villages Health System. Filling a role left vacant several months ago, Holcomb’s main responsibility will be to ensure integrity and accountability in the finance area so that the finance team can take care of employees who are fulfilling the mission of providing loving care to Cornerstone Hospice patients and their families.

 /public/images/Ursula Cutler.1.jpgUrsula Cutler, RN, Vice President of Sales and Marketing: Cutler, who has had a long and varied career in health care and healthcare marketing, admits she never thought she’d end up working in hospice care. Yet, she says she was drawn to work for hospice after witnessing patients on their end-of-life journey who had both good and bad experiences. She has worked at hospice agencies in clinical and marketing roles. At Cornerstone Hospice, Cutler will oversee staff dedicated to clinical and community outreach. Additionally, she will manage all advertising and marketing outreach as well as educational collateral creative. Cutler, who lives in Winter Springs, is filling a position left vacant two years ago.

 “As any organization grows and seeks to find new ways of doing things, having the right people in place is critical to the organization’s success,” said Chuck Lee, CEO of Cornerstone Hospice. “I am excited about the enthusiasm and dedication these leaders bring to Cornerstone Hospice which will have a positive impact on our ability to provide exceptional patient care.”



Posted on Tue, 4 Mar 2014

Cornerstone Hospice enlists Wendy Henderson to lead regional development efforts

/public/images/Henderson.Reg.Dev.Dir..jpgWinter Haven, Fla. (February 19, 2014) – To say Wendy Henderson is a multi-tasker is an understatement. The recently transplanted Lakeland resident’s resume lists a wide variety of roles including  property appraiser, marketing director, fundraiser, and event planner--all accomplished concurrently for different organizations. 

Henderson, who moved to Polk County in May 2013, served as a board member for the local Boys & Girls Club in California and ultimately became their first Director of Development. 

She received her certification in Fundraising and Institutional Advancement from California State University, Northridge. During this time, she also served as Executive Director of the Central California Chapter of the Appraisal Institute. When the real estate boom hit in Caliafornia, she became a residential real estate appraiser, following in her father’s footsteps and working with her husband in their appraisal firm.   

An avid University of Southern California booster, Henderson got involved with the fundraising committee which led to leadership roles coordinating large scale events, including one fundraiser for a local non-profit hospice organization. 

Now the Regional Development Director for Cornerstone Hospice Foundation, Henderson is looking forward to applying her various marketing skills and talent for building relationships to benefit the local non-profit.

“I don’t want anyone to say ‘who is Cornerstone Hospice,’” said Henderson, who manages Cornerstone Hospice Foundation efforts in Polk, Hardee and Highlands County as well as community outreach. “Our people are so amazing and caring and I want the community to know the extensive array of services and programs available in this community.”

“Wendy has proven results in running large, successful fundraising events,” said Deborah Harley, Executive Director. “She will be a tremendous asset in identifying new opportunities to raise awareness about Cornerstone Hospice and the important role we play in our community’s health care system.”

Wendy and her husband Jim have been married 27 years. They have two sons, Blake, a Petty Officer, third class in the U.S. Navy and Joshua, a Senior Airman in the U.S. Air Force.

Posted on Wed, 19 Feb 2014