The Connecticut Hospice is America's first Hospice. It was founded by Florence Wald, and a group of nurses, doctors, and clergy, in 1974 and it was the first of its kind in the United States. A few years prior, Wald, then an Associate Professor and Dean of the Mental Health and Psychiatric Nursing Program at Yale University, was inspired by a palliative care lecture given by Dr. Cicely Saunders, the founder of St. Christopher’s Hospice, the first hospice in the world.
The hospice movement focused on families of people with terminal illnesses, and the patients themselves, and was revolutionary at the time. It appealed to Wald as an alternative to performing procedure after procedure on terminally-ill patients.
“In those days, terminally ill patients went through hell, and the family was never involved,” Wald said. She sought to change that by founding a home hospice program that centered on 10 Principals of Care* that delivered coordinated, comprehensive and compassionate care to people with terminal illnesses and their families. The Connecticut Hospice opened its first inpatient facility in 1980. In 2001, we moved to a beautiful waterfront facility at 100 Double Beach Road, in Branford, Conn., where we remain today.
Throughout our history, we have remained true to our original mission, and continue to uphold our founding principles. Our hospice concept encompasses both home and inpatient care for persons diagnosed with a terminal illness with a limited prognosis, normally six months or less. We uphold the central Hospice commitment to enable the patient to live as fully and completely as possible during the time of the illness. We support the entire family as the unit of care rather than just the patient. Our home care programs make it possible for families to keep the patient at home if such care is appropriate, and marshall community resources to help deepen support and keep care costs as low as possible.
In medieval times the word “Hospice” referred to a way station for travelers...a place providing sanctuary for footsore and weary pilgrims. Originally maintained, in many instances, by religious orders, hospices gradually encompassed medical care for the indigent. More recently, they became known as places providing care for the terminally ill and their families.