Hospice Pioneer Florence Wald, 91, Mourned

Nursing and hospice organizations are honoring the life of Florence Wald, who is credited with founding hospice care in America. Wald, who died at her home in Branford, Conn., on Nov. 8 at age 91, was dean of the Yale University School of Nursing from 1959 to 1965, leaving that post to work with Cicely Saunders from Saint Christopher's Hospice in London. When Wald returned to New Haven, Conn., she organized an interdisciplinary team from Yale to do research about the needs of terminally ill patients and subsequently opened the first U.S. hospice in 1971. Today, there are 4,700 hospices nationwide, according to a biography of Wald, "Pioneer in Hospice Care," written by Cynthia C. Adams RN, MSN, EdD.

Wald, RN, MSN, FAAN, received a Founders Award from the National Hospice Association, a Distinguished Woman of Connecticut Award from the governor of Connecticut, fellowship in the American Academy of Nursing, and three honorary doctoral degrees. She was inducted into the American Nurses Association's Hall of Fame in 1996. The Connecticut Nurses Association established the Florence S. Wald Award for Outstanding Contributions to Nursing Practice, and the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Foundation created the HPNF Florence Wald Fellows Program in her honor.

Adams writes that Wald continued working during the last decade of her life to bring hospice care to prisons in the United States. The Washington Post published an obituary for her today.

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