Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

A hospice care primer and how to find care in the Tampa Bay area

Hospices started opening in the United States in the 1970s, primarily for cancer patients who chose not to continue treatment. Over the years, hospices have evolved to also care for people suffering from heart and lung disease, dementia and other progressive ailments.

If a doctor thinks someone has less than six months to live, that person can qualify for services. Hospice agencies provide doctors, nurses, social workers and chaplains to help patients ease toward their end, often at home.

"We help them live without pain," said Marci Pruitt, vice president of Suncoast Hospice, which serves Pinellas County. "And we support the families, for a few hours a week or continuous care, during the time of crisis and even long after that."

Medicare pays for most hospice services; general care gets $150 a day, an estimated $17 billion annually. From 2000-12, the number of Medicare patients receiving hospice care more than doubled. More than 5,500 hospice programs in the United States now serve 1.5 million patients, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization says.

In Florida, 43 hospices saw 116,958 patients in 2013; most were 65 or older.

Suncoast, part of Empath Health, started in 1977 in a tiny office near the now-razed Pinellas Park mall. In 2013, the not-for-profit agency had 7,831 patients. Some were in hospitals, others in nursing homes or care centers. But most remained at home or with relatives.

"So many of our patients die less than a week after coming to us," Pruitt said. "We want people to come earlier so we can help."

For more information about Suncoast Hospice services in Pinellas County, go to or call (727) 467-7423.

For services in Hillsborough County, contact LifePath Hospice at or call toll-free 1-800-355-8170.

In Pasco County, contact Gulfside Hospice at our call toll-free 1-800-561-4883.

Also in Pasco and Hernando counties, contact Hernando-Pasco Hospice at or call toll-free 1-866-940-0962.

A hospice care primer and how to find care in the Tampa Bay area 04/30/15 [Last modified: Monday, May 4, 2015 10:31am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Protectors of Confederate statue readied for a battle that never materialized

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — Big Dixie flags were waving. County employees had erected a barrier around the Confederate soldier statue at Main and Broad streets. Roads and parking areas were blocked off. Uniformed local officers and federal law enforcement patrolled.

    Police tape and barricades surround the Confederate statue in Brooksville.
  2. Manhattan Casino choice causes political headache for Kriseman


    ST. PETERSBURG — Days before the mayoral primary, Mayor Rick Kriseman's decision to let a Floribbean restaurant open in Midtown's historic Manhattan Casino has caused political angst within the voting bloc he can least afford to lose: the black community.

    Last week Mayor Rick Kriseman chose a Floribbean restaurant concept to fill Midtown's historic Manhattan Casino. But that decision, made days before next week's mayoral primary, has turned into a political headache for the mayor. Many residents want to see the building's next tenant better reflect its cultural significance in the black community. [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]
  3. FSU-Bama 'almost feels like a national championship game Week 1'


    The buzz is continuing to build for next Saturday's blockbuster showdown between No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Florida State.

  4. Plan a fall vacation at Disney, Universal, Busch Gardens when crowds are light


    Now that the busy summer vacation season is ending, Floridians can come out to play.

    Maria Reyna, 8, of Corpus Cristi, TX. eats chicken at the Lotus Blossom Cafe at the Chinese pavilion at Epcot in Orlando, Fla. on Thursday, August 17, 2017.  Epcot is celebrating it's 35th year as the upcoming Food and Wine Festival kicks off once again.
  5. USF spends $1.5 million to address growing demand for student counseling


    TAMPA — As Florida's universities stare down a mental health epidemic, the University of South Florida has crafted a plan it hopes will reach all students, from the one in crisis to the one who doesn't know he could use some help.

    A student crosses the University of South Florida campus in Tampa, where visits to the school's crisis center more than doubled last year, part of a spike in demand that has affected colleges across the country. The university is addressing the issue this year with $1.5 million for more "wellness coaches," counselors, online programs and staff training. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]