November Is National Hospice Month! See a Brief History of Hospice and Pathways Here.

History of Hospice

The word “hospice” (from the same word root as “hospitality”) goes back to medieval times when it meant a place of shelter and rest for weary or sick travelers.

The term was first applied to specialized care for dying patients by Dame Cicely Saunders. She became first a nurse, then a social worker, then a physician and began working with the terminally ill in 1948. She eventually created the first modern hospice—St. Christopher’s Hospice—in London.

Saunders introduced the idea of specialized care for the dying to the U.S. during a 1963 visit to Yale University. A lecture there launched the development of hospice care in the U.S. as we know it today.

1967 Dame Cicely Saunders creates St. Christopher’s Hospice in the United Kingdom.

1969 Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross publishes a book based on more than 500 interviews with dying patients entitled On Death and Dying. It identifies the five stages of dying and becomes an international best seller.

1974 Florence Wald, along with two physicians and a chaplain, founds Connecticut Hospice. The first hospice legislation is introduced to provide federal funds for hospice programs; the legislation is not enacted.

1984 JCAHO begins accrediting hospices.

1986 The Medicare Hospice Benefit is made permanent by Congress. Hospice becomes available to terminally ill nursing home residents.

2004 More than 1 million Americans in a year are served by hospices in the U.S.

2005 The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology release heart failure guidelines that recommend hospice care education be provided early in the course of illness. The number of hospices in the U.S. tops 4,000 for the first time.

2006 The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) recognizes hospice and palliative medicine as a medical specialty.

2007 Research published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management reports that hospice patients live an average 29 days longer than similar patients without hospice. And findings of a major study at Duke University shows that hospice saves money for Medicare and brings quality care to patients and families.

2009 The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education adds hospice and palliative medicine to its list of accredited programs.

History of Pathways

1976 MidPeninsula Health Service (MHS) opens as a non-profit health plan in downtown Palo Alto.

1977 MidPeninsula becomes a Medicare certified home health agency and name becomes MidPeninsula HomeCare and Hospice, serving San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties. The hospice program was one of the first in the U.S.

1978 Vesper Society in San Leandro establishes Vesper/Pathways Hospice program to serve Alameda and Contra Costa County families.

1986 MidPeninsula is affiliated with El Camino and Sequoia Hospitals. MidPeninsula Continuous Care Services, now Private Duty, is created as a non-medical home care attendant agency.

1991 MidPeninsula Hospice Foundation is established to raise funds for hospice programs and un- and underinsured patients.

1998 Hospice and Private Duty expand into San Francisco.

1999 MidPeninsula, with offices in Mountain View and San Francisco, acquires Pathways in Oakland and becomes MidPeninsula Pathways HomeCare and Hospice, serving 5 counties.

2002 The name MidPeninsula no longer fits the geography covered, so the name formally changes to Pathways Home Health & Hospice. Pathways Hospice Foundation passes a significant milestone, having raised more than $10,000,000 for Pathways since it began.

2003 Pathways KIDS for children with life-threatening illnesses is launched as well as a partnership in global caring with Pretoria Sungardens Hospice in South Africa.

2005 Pathways purchases its own headquarters building in Sunnyvale to accommodate growth and end rent increases.

2006 Pathways receives its largest gift ever from Fujitsu Corp. in the form of laptops and other technology equipment worth over $777,000. Pathways introduces bedside laptops for improved documentation in the electronic medical record.

2012 Pathways celebrates its 35-year anniversary.