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History of Hospice of Marion County

Celebrating 35 yearsHospice of Marion County began in the early 1980s when parishioners learned of the death of one of their church members. The pain of his cancer was so intense it led him to take his own life.

A handful of volunteers sought to prevent such a tragedy from ever happening again. They imagined a model of compassionate hospice care for each patient at the end of life.

In 1981, The Star Banner published an article written by Kathy Askren, wife of Rev. Robert Askren, calling for the need for hospice services in our community. A task force chaired by Marilyn Curran followed and soon their resolution to succeed resulted in Ocala Hospice, which received licensure from the State of Florida in 1983. The name was officially changed to Hospice of Marion County in 1989.

In the ensuing years, new companies have been formed to complete the continuum of care for our neighbors throughout the county, from Lake Weir to Lake Kerr, Citra to Dunnellon, and every place in between

Hospice Pioneers

Ann M. Allen, RN*
Kathy R. Askren*
Rev. Robert D. Askren,*
W. E. Bishop, Jr., Esq. *
John Boysen, MD, Volunteer
Roger W. Bruce*
Marilyn Curran*
Pamela W. (Davis) Michell*
David F. Elliott, MD,* 1st Med. Director
Mary Gilchrist, RN, 1st hospice nurse
Dee Grooms, 1st bookkeeper
Debbie Harper, RN, nursing
Rita E. Hofmann, RN*
Daisy A. Kendrick*

Carlton S. Lucius*
John Marshall*
Nan J. McMurphy*
Patricia R. Metzger*
Diane C. Morthland
Jo Ponchos, RN
Jean M. Osborne*
Debbie Parker
Ralph F. Ranieri, MSW*
Rev. Bob Smith
Larry Wood, CPA*
Edie C. Woolworth*
Charlotte Wright, RN*
Gary Wright, MD*

*1983 Charter Board of Directors

David Elliott, MD … since the beginning

Dr David ElliottLooking back, Dr. Elliott doesn’t think he could have been anything BUT a hospice doc. “Even in my early residency,” says the native of Bournemouth, England, “I could see that not enough was being done for the terminally ill. Essentially, they were left alone to die. I wanted to change that.” Everything he has done in his career since that moment has led to the enormous contribution he has made to the hospice movement in our community.

Very few have had the privilege of studying directly with Dame Cicely Saunders, the founder of the modern hospice movement. She has been called one of the most significant social change agents of the 20th century. While on a Geriatric Fellowship in 1976-77, Dr. Elliott gained invaluable personal experience by rounding with her in the mornings at London’s St. Christopher’s Hospice, and attending her afternoon IDT sessions. “She was passionate about making hospice standard care,” he says. “Once, she stood in front of a group of all male physicians and confronted them about what she characterized as their negligence toward dying patients, challenging them to take up the gauntlet of this patient population. She certainly got their attention. The strength of her personality and advocacy for the dying was tangible in the room!”

He retired at the end of 2018 and is now a volunteer.

On the Move


1981 Ocala Hospice, Inc. certified as nonprofit FL corporation; officers/board created
1982 1st donated space at Blessed Trinity Catholic Church
1983 Ocala Hospice licensed in FL; Dr. David Elliott – first Volunteer Medical Director
1st office at 53 SW 16th Place
1984 Move to 299 SE 17th St.
1985 Move to 3850 SE 58th Ave., Bldg B
1986 Move to 1229 SE Ft. King St.
Ocala Hospice receives 1st Medicare reimbursement
1987 1st building purchased at 317 NE 36th Ave.
1989 Name change to Hospice of Marion County
1991 Groundbreaking for Hospice House on land donated by Roger Gribot
1992 Sylvia’s House opens – 2895 SE 62nd St.
1994 Thrift Store #1 opens in Belleview, followed by #2 in Jasmine Square
1996 Estelle’s House opens – 2897 SW 62nd St.
1996 Offices move to new Administration Bldg at 3231 SW 34th Ave.
2000 Thrift Store #3 opens in Silver Springs Shores
2001 Accent Medical and Pharmacy & Material Management Bldg
Transition program begins
2002 First bereavement Camp Mariposa for children aged 5-12
Marian Montanari donates “Horsefly”
SummerField Suites & Hospice House opens – 17421 SE 109th Terrace Rd.
2003 The Legacy House opens – 9505 SW 110th St.
2006 The Tuscany House opens – 17395 109th Terrace Rd, Summerfield
2008 CCPC wins National Consensus Project Award for model consulting services
2009 Two FPHC awards: Barbara Janosko Excellence in Leadership and Excellence in Program Innovation
Chamber of Commerce awards Nonprofit Business of the Year to Hospice of Marion County
Alice J. Privett Administration Building named
2011 Hospice of Marion County awarded Joint Commission accreditation
2012 Thrift Store #4 Thrift Store opens in the Terrace Shoppes in Summerfield
Thrift Store #2 re-opens in expanded space in Jasmine Square
Hospice of Marion County awarded Mary Sue Rich Racial Harmony award
Monarch Legacy Society established
2013 Thrift Store #5 opens in the Six Gun Plaza
The education center re-named The Elliott Center for Dr. Elliott, 1st Medical Director
2014 Hospice of Marion County awarded Deemed Status by the Joint Commission
2015 The Monarch Center for Hope and Healing opens to the community
The Tuscany House is renamed the Ted & Diane Brandley House
2017 Hospice of Marion County awarded Deemed Status by the Joint Commission again for the second re-accreditation cycle
The Center for Comprehensive Palliative Care is awarded Joint Commission Accreditation
Hospice of Marion County wins 1st place for Best Hospice by Ocala Star Banner Readers, second year in a row of contest being held
Hospice of Marion County earns Level 4 status for its Veterans Support program from the National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization
Volunteer Department is renamed the E. L. Foster, Jr. Volunteer Department
2018 Hospice of Marion County’s Chief Medical Officer earns Fellow status from American Academy of Hospice & Palliative Medicine
Hospice of Marion County marks 35 years serving the community
2018 The Helen ‘Mimi’ Walker Campus is named
2019 The Memorial Park and Veterans Circle Park is dedicated
2019 HMC opens its sixth Thrift Store in the Paddock Park Shoppes