The HOSPICE OF THE WESTERN RESERVE, one of the area's first such services, was founded in September 1978 in Lake County as Cancer Family Service, Inc., to offer home care and support for terminally ill patients and their families. Elizabeth Pitorak, through an American Cancer Society committee, created the agency with two part-time nurses, a social worker and volunteers. In 1981 the name changed to Hospice of Lake County, and the scope broadened to all county residents with six months or less to live. In 1984 the hospice established a four-bed inpatient unit at Lake West Hospital, Willoughby. The next year the agency began its expansion to Cuyahoga County and in March 1990 opened a UNIV. CIRCLE office, at 10645 Euclid Avenue, in addition to its Mentor office at 5786 Heisley Road. The name changed to the Hospice of the Western Reserve in November 1989. The Hospice Network of Northern Ohio (formerly the Catholic Hospice Network) merged with it in July 1990. In the early 1990s, the hospice added inpatient beds at hospitals such as
ST. VINCENT CHARITY,
ST. JOHN and West Shore and became hospice provider for the Meridia Hospital System (1990) and
KAISER PERMANENTE (1991). It began the state's first pediatric hospice program, in conjunction with Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital, in 1992. The hospice is affiliated with both national and state hospice organizations and was accredited by the Joint Commission for Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations in 1985. In January 1995 the Hospice opened a residential facility, Hospice House, at 300 East 185th Street to serve patients without support caregivers at home and provide short stays for home-care patients. The average number of patients cared for per day by Hospice had increased from about eighteen in 1978 to about 400 in 1995. In ten years of operation, Hospice House cared for more than 10,000 patients. In 2006 H. Clark Harvey, Jr. was Board President, and David Simpson was the organization's CEO.