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About Us: Cornerstone

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Cornerstone Hospice & Palliative Care, Inc., a free-standing, independent, not-for-profit healthcare agency, is a provider member of both Florida Hospices & Palliative Care, Inc. (FHPCA) and the National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO). While neither organization governs our agency, both allow members to communicate with each other and seek solutions to common problems.

Since 1984, Cornerstone has helped patients and families live life to the fullest. Cornerstone serves patients and families seeking quality and dignity in their lives while coping with an end-of-life illness. We are licensed by the State of Florida, certified by Medicare and Medicaid, and comply with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act privacy practices.

Our Mission

The Mission of Cornerstone is to make quality Hospice care available to all persons, their families, and those affected by serious illness, death and dying in our community; to advocate effectively for patients’ comfort, dignity and choice; and to be recognized as the leading resource in clinical, ethical, and spiritual issues of dying and grief.

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Our Service Area

Cornerstone services are available in the heart of Central Florida throughout all the cities and towns located in Lake, Sumter, Orange, Osceola, Polk, Hardee and Highlands counties, including but not limited to Leesburg, Mount Dora, Clermont, The Villages, Tavares, Lady Lake, Sumterville, Bushnell, Orlando, Winter Park, Kissimmee, Celebration, Auburndale, Bartow, Haines City, Sebring, and Wauchula.

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Hospice Houses and Inpatient Care

Cornerstone Hospice Houses are staffed around the clock by Hospice nurses and nursing assistants. They offer care to patients who have a limited or frail caregiver or no one at all. Services include residential, inpatient, and respite care. Any patient from any where in the world can be admitted to any of our hospice houses. The fee for room and board is determined on a Sliding Scale based on income and assets.

Frank and Helen DeScipio House

• 2445 Lane Park Road, Tavares, FL 32778

Serves patients and families in Lake County and surrounding area

The Villages Hospice House

• 601 Casa Bella, The Villages, FL 32162

Serves patients and families in north Lake and Sumter Counties and surrounding areas

The Mike Conley Hospice House

2100 Oakley Seaver Boulevard, Clermont, FL 34711

Serves patients and families in south Lake County and the surrounding region

The Lane Purcell House

2294 CR 526 East, Sumterville, FL 33585

Serves patients and families in south Sumter County and surrounding areas

Cornerstone Inpatient Suites at Winter Park Tower

1111 South Lakemont Avenue, Winter Park, FL 32792

• 10-bed hospice wing located in Winter Park Towers, Retirement Community Facility
Serves patients in the greater Orlando area


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Cornerstone SALUTES! We Honor Veterans

Cornerstone enhances our special care of our veteran patients with Cornerstone SALUTES! a comprehensive hospice program respectfully celebrating veterans' service to our country, at home and abroad, and providing care that recognizes the challenges unique to military families. It offers

• Staff specially trained by a national VA expert to meet the unique needs of our veterans.

• A tailor-made Pinning Ceremony for the veteran patient and family by a veteran member of our staff or a veteran volunteer. A special pin and a Certificate of Appreciation are presented to the patient.
• Veteran stories and/or legacies recorded by trained volunteers who can submit the story to the Veterans History Project, Library of Congress in Washington, DC.

• Annual Journey of Remembrance offered exclusively for veterans' families to pin, thank and honor them for their part in helping to keep America free: "A soldier does not fight alone ... it is a family effort."

• Support groups held in coordination with other veteran support groups to supplement their services.

Networking with other veteran services helps Cornerstone work together and join in the fabric of veteran support in all of our communities. Cornerstone SALUTES! joined the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s We Honor Veterans program in 2010. More information about We Honor Veterans can be found at

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Pet Peace of Mind

Many of our patients share their lives not only with family and friends but also with beloved pets. Cornerstone is the first hospice in the state of Florida to offer this volunteer run program.  Our Pet Peace of Mind program keeps patients and their beloved pets together for as long as possible. We assist with the care of pets when needed by providing services; such as, dog walking, waste clean-up, pet feeding, pet bathing, and transportation to veterinary appointments. We also provide funds for food, litter and basic veterinary care for pets of patients in financial hardship. With this loving support, patients are able to complete their end of life journeys without worrying about their pets’ current or future needs.

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Sacred Space

To honor and respect patients at the end of their life and their families, Cornerstone is dedicated to providing an environment in their physical surroundings which is conducive to tranquility and comfort. Sacred Space provides for a very private, personal spiritual experience which is comforting at the end of life. A Sacred Space is a place of beauty and serenity, stillness and peacefulness. Each thought-out detail in creating a Sacred Space transforms the patient’s surrounding into a place of comfort and nurturing.

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Transitions - Pre-Hospice Program

At Cornerstone, our Transitions program supports individuals and their families who are coping with a life-limiting illness who are receiving curative treatments. Through regular contact, either in person or by phone, our professionally-trained, qualified volunteers assist the patient and family in adapting to the many changes that accompany a serious illness while enhancing their quality of life. Assistance is provided through companionship, assurance, support, and accessing community resources. Our Transitions program is provided at no cost to individuals and families.

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This program is designed especially for Hospice patients who live in assisted living facilities and who need extra care and attention. A Hospice nursing assistant visits in the late afternoon or evening to ensure patients are settled for the evening; i.e., have had their baths and meals; and provides socialization while visiting.

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Cornerstone Diversity Council

The mission of the Cornerstone Diversity Council is to recognize, embrace, honor and celebrate all the ways in which we are different and similar, seen and unseen, that exist within ourselves, our organization and the diverse communities we serve.

At Cornerstone, we believe the sparks of light within us all have been the source of innovative ideas and creative accomplishments which define our past, present and future. To us, diversity is made up of all the experiences, values and world views that arise from our varied cultures, ethnicities and circumstances. The diverse team of people who provide care through Cornerstone embrace this same cultural richness in our patients and those who love them, whether there are differences of race, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, language, abilities/disabilities, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status or geographic region.

Cornerstone celebrates diversity by

• Honoring and respecting each individual’s choices regarding faith and spirituality.

• Offering services in multiple languages to meet the needs of our patients and those who love them.

• Empowering family and friends to care for loved ones in the way they would prefer.

• Providing care for the whole person, physically, emotionally and spiritually, as appropriate.

• Supporting each person’s right to be the person he or she has intended to be, and recognizing people learn from each other.

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Grief Support

Cornerstone has an extensive variety of offerings designed to meet the special bereavement needs of patients and their families and those experiencing grief in our communities.

Our Community Bereavement and Children's Grief Programs are available to anyone in the community experiencing grief, even if a relative or friend was not on our Hospice program. Most often in the Community Bereavement Program, the death is sudden, accidental, and traumatic. All of our counseling and support group facilitation is done by professional grief counselors. For further information, please call 352-742-6898 or 888-728-6234 or email

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Awards and Recognition

Cornerstone has been recognized with prestigious industry awards, many Community Service Awards, and the Best Places to Work designation. From Florida Hospice and Palliative Care (FHPC), Cornerstone won the 2002 Awards of Excellence, Patient-Family Services Award for our Tuck-InTM program. Mike Barnett, our Children’s Bereavement Counselor, won the 2005 Awards of Excellence for our Camp Adventure, a children’s grief program. National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) in September 2005 chose our President/CEO, Pat Lehotsky, as the national Heart of Hospice Award honoree. Don Schumacher, President/CEO, NHPCO, presented the award to Pat. In January 2010, he honored our hospice with a rare visit to a local hospice. Also in 2005, Disney awarded Cornerstone its Helping Kids Shine. In 2006 Lou Acuff, RN, CHPN, won the first FHPC Hospice Spirit Award. In 2009, our Employee Food Bank which is available for distribution to our patients and families won the FHPC Community Outreach award. Our Chief Financial Officer, Tom Grimmer, was recognized as the CFO of 2010 by the Orlando Business Journal.

The dedicated staff and volunteers of Cornerstone are the source of excellence for our organization. Their creative ideas and exceptional patient care continually move our agency.

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Our History

Cornerstone Hospice & Palliative Care, Inc., a free-standing, independent, not-for-profit corporation dedicated to compassionate care for its patients throughout seven counties in Central Florida. In fiscal year 2011-12, Cornerstone Hospice served nearly 5,000 patients and families.

The organization originated in 1981 when a group of Eustis residents first envisioned bringing hospice services to Lake County. Their dream became reality in 1985 when Lake Hospice was licensed to provide comprehensive hospice services to the community. Its service area expanded to Sumter County in 1986.

Continued expansion including demand to build in-patient hospice services prompted incorporation of the Hospice Foundation in 1988. The foundation has contributed funds for building hospice houses, providing patient-care ancillary services, and supporting community outreach programs, including bereavement.

In February 1991, Hospice moved from leased space in a shopping center into its newly constructed Hospice Center south of Tavares. Later that year, the Tavares Hospice House with six beds opened next door to the Center, becoming the second hospice house built in the State and the first free-standing one.

In 2002 Hospice of Lake & Sumter, doing business as Cornerstone Hospice, admitted its first patient in Polk County. Since then, the agency has expanded services in Orange, Osceola, Hardee and Highlands counties and built three hospice houses: The Villages (2003), Mike Conley Hospice House in Clermont (2007) and the Lane Purcell Hospice House in Sumterville (2008). In 2010, Cornerstone Inpatient Suites opened 10 beds at Winter Park Towers in Orlando. Cornerstone Hospice partners with local facilities to provide inpatient beds and/or units in counties without hospice houses. 

The organization began operating as Cornerstone Hospice & Palliative Care in 2010 to better represent the seven counties served.

Cornerstone Hospice is proud of the innovative programs introduced to the community over the years:

  • Rhythms, a compassionate care program for cardiac patients (2006).
  • Cornerstone SALUTES! addressing the special needs of veterans and recognizing them for their service (2010).
  • Pet Peace of Mind for patients needing assistance with pet care (2011).
  • Transitions, a program for individuals not quite ready for hospice (2011).
  •, a Cornerstone website providing helpful online information to family caregivers and a reference for the professional community (2011).
  • Pediatric Care, specialized care customized for our youngest patients and their families. (2012)

Cornerstone Hospice, a provider member of both Florida Hospices & Palliative Care, Inc. (FHPCA) and the National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), has been recognized with prestigious industry awards, many community service swards, and the Best Places to Work designation (2005, 2006, 2007). FHPCA, has awarded Cornerstone Hospice Awards of Excellence for our Tuck-InTM (2002) and Mike Barnett’s Camp Adventure (2005). In 2005, NHPCO named Cornerstone President/CEO, Pat Lehotsky the National Heart of Hospice Award honoree. The dedicated staff and volunteers of Cornerstone Hospice and Palliative Care, Inc. are the source of excellence for our organization whose creative ideas and exceptional patient care will move our agency forward in the years to come.

Compassionate Leaders: Cornerstone Hospice’s CEO’s

1984 – 1986 Jeanne Wiseman

1986 – 1993 Elbert “Red” Linville

1993 – 1996 Ken Drees

1996 – 1998 Becky McDonald

1998 – 2012 Pat Lehotsky

2012 – 2013 Mary Manrique

2013 -   Chuck Lee

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Our Statistics

Cornerstone's average daily census is over 700 patients. We average admitting 12+ patients each day. Each year we serve approximately 5,000 patients with a staff of 650 employees and approximately 1,000 professionally trained volunteers.

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