TAMPA — Thirty years ago, health care providers in this country were just beginning to address how best to help the terminally ill. As with everyday illnesses, dying patients were cared for in hospitals or at home.
A growing number of people were saying that end-of-life care should be different and should stress comfort.
Patricia Pasach was one of the voices advocating for change. The owner of a successful home health service, she met with politicians at the local and state level and pushed for hospice care, just as others were doing nationwide. The result was Medicare funding for hospice services.
Mrs. Pasach, a founding board member and past president of Hospice of Hillsborough, died Saturday of cancer. She was 68. The organization is now known as LifePath Hospice.
Through the efforts of Mrs. Pasach, who owned Forest Terrace, and the heads of several other local home health organizations, Hospice of Hillsborough opened its doors in Tampa in 1983 in the cramped quarters of Northeast United Methodist Church. Money was tight and patients scarce.
"It was very much a leap of faith for everyone involved who wanted to see a better way for terminally ill patients," said Sandy Rex, the first nurse hired by Hospice of Hillsborough.
"There was only so much home health companies could do," said Rex, now a manager of quality and risk for Good Shepherd Hospice, which, with LifePath, falls under the parent company Chapters Health System. "(Mrs. Pasach) was very much an early visionary about that."
A fourth-generation Tampa native, Mrs. Pasach moved through the phases of her life with a quiet forcefulness. She attended the University of Tampa and graduated from the Gordon Keller School of Nursing.
She was an "elegant Southern woman," said daughter Gladys Baxley, one who could accomplish as much with a deft glance or a smile as others could with words. "She socialized with people of any religion, culture, age range or economic status," Baxley said. "It didn't matter to her."
After working at two hospitals and a nursing home, she became director of nursing at Forest Terrace, a home health company.
In 1970, she married Dr. Arthur Pasach. She became an owner of Forest Terrace in the late 1970s, and also owned a private-duty home health service and a physical therapy clinic.
Hospice of Hillsborough saw five patients in 1983, its first year open. The number jumped to 60 the next year. Today, there are more than 3,500 hospices in the United States.
Mrs. Pasach sold Forest Terrace in 1986 to Morton Plant Mease, and remained active on the Hospice of Hillsborough board.
She and her husband also operated a farm in Georgia, raising cattle and growing pecans.
She was diagnosed with cancer 18 months ago, her family said. She died at home Saturday under the hospice care she helped make possible.
Andrew Meacham can be reached at (727) 892-2248 or email@example.com.