August 27, 1948 to February 4, 2012
“I think hospice is the greatest single honor that has ever occurred in my life. To have the opportunity to be a part of building something that makes such a difference to society. And I think what is really important is that hospice is a dream that’s come true, and a dream that’s grown beyond all of our expectations.
In terms of values, it’s a dream that didn’t come out of academia, it didn’t come out of research, it didn’t come out of organized medicine. It was the dream of people themselves that had lost a loved one and simply wanted to reach out and see if they could make that path different for others. And it was above all about human dignity, no matter how long life was.
And I think it has grown so much not because we were smart in building it, but because we had the capacity to listen to what our patients and communities needed and to build that for them.”
~ Mary J. Labyak
Last night I witnessed that rare quality in a leader, humility. I attended the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organizations’ Foundation Gala in Washington DC. There were lights and flowers and diamonds and glamor. The nations’ hospice leaders and donors were decked out in their finery to give out awards and celebrate.
This year the Healthcare Architect Award was given to Mary Labyak, President and CEO of Suncoast Hospice. Mary has had a brilliant career in hospice that started in 1980 in Clearwater, Florida. She was hired by a handful of volunteer board members to provide hospice care to the dying citizens of their area. Mary and her dedicated volunteers and staff embarked on a journey that has led to a profound change in the way people are cared for at the end of life.
Many people across the US have contributed their life’s work to this movement, but few are more recognized or revered than Mary Labyak. Growing up in...