A tropical-themed evening in Windermere is set to raise funds for the capital costs of building Cornerstone Hospice & Palliative Care’s newest hospice-care center in Ocoee.
At Cornerstone Hospice & Palliative Care, the philosophy is simple: Every moment matters, and it is important to help patients make the most of life’s precious moments.
After identifying a need for a hospice unit in West Orange, Cornerstone broke ground in November 2017 on its newest, 10-bed space inside the Orlando Health Center for Rehabilitation on the campus of Ocoee’s Health Central Hospital.
As Cornerstone’s newest hospice unit is on track to open in just a few months, it is working on fundraising to build out the new space in time for the expected spring 2019 opening.
“About three years ago, we opened the Cornerstone hospice-care center inside Orlando Regional Medical Center, and that has been a tremendous benefit for the community, and many times, all the rooms are filled,” said Carol Felder, regional development director for Cornerstone Hospice. “We love the model that it’s right on the hospital campus, because we feel it makes it more accessible to patients and families. … With our partnership with Orlando Health, they were building their new rehabilitation center at Health Central and invited us to put a unit there. So we’ll have a 10-bed Cornerstone care center inside the Orlando Health rehab center.”
Currently, Cornerstone also has four freestanding hospice houses in Clermont, The Villages, Tavares and Sumterville, Felder said.
“We’ve been in collaboration with Orlando Health for about the last five years, and we’re basically leasing the space from them, but we’re pretty much their hospice of choice,” she said. “A few years ago, they realized that in health, they cover everything from in the womb through most health care needs, but they felt they needed hospice care to close that continuum.”
Cornerstone began serving the Central Florida area in 1984 and has since grown to serve seven counties: Lake, Sumter, Orange, Osceola, Polk, Hardee and Highland. It currently serves just fewer than 1,400 patients daily, Felder said. It is a not-for-profit, community health care organization, and all proceeds and profits go back into the program.
“Sometimes a patient may want to take a last trip to Disney World or do something fun and we do that and help them live their last days, weeks or months to the fullest extent,” Felder said. “As a nonprofit, we have supplemental programs that help enhance that care, such as Pet Peace of Mind, where we help the families to consider the pets of the patients when they’re making plans so the pet isn’t left alone.”
Cornerstone has been hosting fundraising events in each of its communities for a few years now, Felder said. The signature event is called “Evening Beneath the Stars,” but each individual event often has a theme.
“About eight years ago, we wanted to do something a little bit different than our annual golf tournament, so we spoke to Missy Blackburn (a former board member) in Clermont and asked if we could hold an event at her home,” Felder said. “That was one event eight years ago, and now we hold these in each of our counties. The private home has benefits for two reasons. (Because) our service area is so widespread, it allows us to hold an event in each area and helps us cut down on expenses. We can bring in donated alcohol and caterers and things we might not be able to do if we rented a large room somewhere.”
To raise funds for the Ocoee location, Cornerstone supporter Judy Noble will host “An Evening Beneath the Stars: A Night in Margaritaville” Friday, Oct. 12 at her home in Windermere. Guests are encouraged to dress in “island chic” attire and come by to enjoy island-themed food, frozen margaritas and music.
Event committee members involved in the community nominate an honoree who has made a difference in the community to receive the Heart of Cornerstone Award. This event’s honoree is Dr. Michael Armbruster, associate superintendent at Orange County Public Schools.
“(Guests) can expect a relaxing, mix-and-mingle evening of gourmet food, open complimentary bar including frozen margaritas, live music from The Beach Vibes, and we have a special guest performance,” Felder said.