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Mary J Labyak

Mary Labyak was a visionary leader, a change agent and an inspirational teacher. Her work at the community, state, national and international levels profoundly changed the care of seriously ill people and their family caregivers.  We invite you to learn more about Mary Labyak and her many contributions.

Mary was the leader of Suncoast Hospice in Pinellas County, Florida from 1980 until her death on February 4, 2012. . Since 1977, when she joined Suncoast, Mary sought better ways of caring for people at the end of life. Under her leadership, Suncoast grew from a small group of volunteers and staff into the largest not-for-profit, community-based hospice in the country. Suncoast Hospice became an innovative leader for the advancement of end-of-life care in the nation. Throughout her career, Mary emphasized the constant need to focus on the patient and family.

Known nationally and internationally as a visionary in hospice and palliative care, Mary was one of the social architects credited for shaping compassionate end-of-life care in the United States. She was recognized in hospice and legislative circles as a staunch advocate on behalf of dying persons and their families, always encouraging advances and innovations in end-of-life care.

She was called upon for countless leadership roles. She served as chair of the NHPCO board of directors and of the Florida Hospice & Palliative Care Organization. At the time of her death, she was chair of the National Hospice Foundation and co-chair of the capital campaign for the National Center for Care at the End of Life. Mary was the recipient of numerous awards, including the National Hospice Foundation’s Healthcare Architect award in 2011.

Mary Labyak and NHPCO’s Don Schumacher on the campus of Suncoast Hospice in Clearwater, FL

In Mary’s Own Words

Mary receives the National Hospice Foundation Healthcare Architect Award from President and CEO J. Donald Schumacher.

In 2001, Mary Labyak wrote the landmark article, The Experience Model, which called for the provision of hospice and palliative care services that are based on the unique values, end-of-life goals and wishes of each patient and family rather than on the disease itself. Now, more than a decade later, hospice and palliative care providers embrace this model.