Clearwater, Fla. (March 15, 2019) – Suncoast Hospice, a member of Empath Health, announced today the release of the book A Caring Sanctuary, Suncoast Hospice: Forty Years of Caring. This intimate history reflects on the origins of hospice in the Tampa Bay area.

In 1976, a group of like-minded people in Pinellas County took on the challenge of changing the way people died in their community. From this group of compassionate people grew Suncoast Hospice, one of the nation’s largest and most highly-respected nonprofit hospices. Over the past 40 years, more than 170,000 people have been served by the love and expertise of its compassionate staff and volunteers, regardless of the ability to pay for services.

“This book presents a story of compassion for the dying, determination not to fail – even when it seemed likely – and a passion for innovative services, clinical practices, and enriching volunteer experiences,” expressed Rafael J. Sciullo, President and CEO of Empath Health. “We had to dedicate the history of Suncoast Hospice to Mary Labyak, our beloved President and CEO of 30 years.  Mary died peacefully in her home, cared for by hospice staff and volunteers with whom she shared her life’s work. Without her leadership, we could not have cared for thousands of end-of-life patients and their families. Her tenacity, compassion, and mission-driven leadership propelled Suncoast Hospice through many challenges.”

To tell the story as well as the values and principles that led Suncoast Hospice to become one of the largest nonprofit community-based hospice in the United States, two of their visionary leaders came together to author the piece: Dr. Mary Jean Etten, Ed.D APRN, CMP, FT and Betty A. Oldanie, RN, BSN, MS.

Dr. Mary Jean Etten, Ed.D APRN, CMP, FT is one of the founders of Suncoast Hospice and has served as a board member since its founding. She is widely known as a leader in the hospice movement in Pinellas County, Florida and nationally.

Betty A. Oldanie, RN, BSN, MS served Suncoast Hospice in leadership roles for over 20 years, prior to becoming interim President and CEO. She had a longstanding devotion to the fields of quality, service excellence, and compliance and served with hospice groups at local, state, and national levels.

A Caring Sanctuary, Suncoast Hospice: Forty Years of Caring is available at Amazon for paperback or Kindle purchases.


About Suncoast Hospice

Suncoast Hospice is a nonprofit provider of compassionate hospice care and bereavement support services to Pinellas County patients and families nearing the final stages of life or grieving the deaths of loved ones. As an Empath Health member, we focus on bringing holistic comfort and dignity through our medical and integrative treatment, emotional and spiritual care and palliative and support services. Families and caregivers also are comforted with training, support and healing. Suncoast Hospice is accredited by The Joint Commission.

About Empath Health
Empath Health is a nonprofit integrated network of care that provides expert, life-changing health care to those with chronic and advanced illnesses. Empath Health includes hospice, home health and physician services, palliative care services, independent living assistance and day care for seniors, HIV services and advance care planning.