Hospice Chief Announces Retirement
Hospice Chief Retires Published: Monday, February 06, 2012 TAVARES  in the Daily Commercial, Leesburg, Florida THERESA CAMPBELL | Staff Writer theresacampbell@dailycommercial.com The president and chief executive officer of Cornerstone Hospice & Palliative Care is retiring after 15 years at the helm of the non-profit agency. Pat Lehotsky reflected on her early years with hospice and the organization's growth. "I remember like it was yesterday, my first days with the former Hospice of Lake & Sumter," she said. "We were serving about 120 patients and had a staff of 70." Today Cornerstone Hospice & Palliative Care serves over 4,200 patients annually in seven counties and has more than 600 employees, four offices, four hospice houses and one inpatient unit. The local hospice was in partnership with Leesburg Regional Medical Center and South Lake Hospital in the winter of 2001 to provide the Pathways program. During the same year, the Life Enrichment Program began, providing patients with massages, aromatherapy, artwork, music and more. Among the newer hospice programs are Serious Illness care-giving web resources, Pet Peace of Mind, Transitions Program, a Cardiac Specialty Program, and a planned Inpatient Unit in Polk County. Lehotsky is proud of the agency's key milestones: The award-winning "Tuck-in" program which provides personal care to patients in facilities in the evening hours; the donation of two acres of land from Glenn Wade, which would become the site of the Lane Purcell Hospice House; and the opening of The Villages Hospice House in June 2003. She recalled the first Hospice license plate was sold in 2004, after a bill sponsored by former Sen. Carey Baker. Proceeds from the sale of this plate continue to provide funds to advance hospice care in Florida. Cornerstone Hospice & Palliative Care celebrated its 20th anniversary in October 2004, just as four hurricanes had gone through Florida. "That was quite a year," she recalled. Lehotsky said she was "tremendously honored and humbled" in 2005 to win the Heart of Hospice Award -- Senior Executive, from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), which has its headquarters near Washington D.C. She was also pleased in November 2007 when her agency received the "Exceptional Employers" award for a large company of over 250 employees for the third year in a row. Lehotsky oversaw several building projects as hospice CEO, including Serenity Chapel that opened at The Villages Hospice House in November 2005; the Mike Conley Hospice House, which accepted its first patient in October 2007 on land donated by South Lake Hospital; and Lane Purcell Hospice House in Sumter County that opened December 2008. "With confidence, I leave Cornerstone Hospice in the capable hands of its leaders and staff, who will continue to provide the best in end-of-life care to the communities we serve," Lehotsky said. About Cornerstone Cornerstone Hospice and Palliative Care, Inc., a not-for-profit community-based healthcare organization, has provided care and services to central Florida residents experiencing life-limiting illnesses since 1984. To learn more about its services, call 352-343-1341 or toll-free 888-728-6234 in Lake and Sumter counties or visit www.cornerstonehospice.org or www.SeriousIllness.org/Cornerstone