About Us

Philosophy of Hospice Atlanta

Hospice Atlanta is founded on the belief that dying is an integral part of life. Patients and their families are encouraged to experience those precious final moments of living with awareness and personal integrity. Hospice Atlanta provides a coordinated program of supportive care directed toward meeting the physical, social, and psychological and spiritual needs of terminally ill patients and their families. Hospice care is delivered by an inter-disciplinary team of health care professionals and volunteers in conjunction with the patient’s family and attending physician, and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week without regard to ability to pay. It is the belief of this organization that this continuity of care can be provided cost effectively, enhancing the quality of life through death.

History of Hospice

In 1867, Dr. Cicely Saunders established the first modern hospice program called St. Christopher’s Hospice in London, England. Dr. Saunders demonstrated how a warm, caring atmosphere could help patients and families deal with the impact of impending death in a way that lessens their isolation, depression and fear.

The first hospice in the United States was established in 1974 in New Haven, Connecticut when an existing residence was purchased and converted into a free-standing hospice facility.

Hospice affirms life. It neither hastens nor postpones death. The hospice concept is based on the belief that people should live their remaining days with dignity, as alertly and comfortably as possible. Hospice care is based on the idea that death can be prepared for and can happen in an atmosphere of caring and love.

History of Hospice Atlanta

Hospice Atlanta is the oldest hospice in the State of Georgia and had its beginning in 1975. At that time, two women from the Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Frances West and Mona Casino, began the program in order to care for a member of their congregation. Members of the church gathered together to support that patient and their family.

As time went on, the number of volunteers increased, and they began to serve more patients. A board of directors was developed to assist in guiding the volunteer staff. Volunteer support groups met in the homes of various volunteers. Saint Joseph’s Hospital donated office space and an initial grant was obtained in 1981 for hiring professional staff. Patient and family services were still provided by volunteers and consisted primarily of emotional and practical support.

In 1983, Hospice Atlanta became a program of the Visiting Nurse Association of Metropolitan Atlanta, a United Way Agency. This affiliation enabled hospice to comply with newly enacted state and federal standards governing provision of hospice care. In addition, Hospice Atlanta hired professional caregivers (nurses and social workers) to provide direct services to patients and families. Both professional and paraprofessional volunteers served as members of the hospice team to provide care to patients and their families. During 1984 and 1985, Hospice Atlanta’s caseload and staffing increased significantly. This trend has continued, as hospice care has become better known in the community and among health care professionals. We now serve terminal patients and their families in 26 counties in the State of Georgia.

A Question and Answer History of Visiting Nurse | Hospice Atlanta

Brief History of Hospice

Originally “hospice” meant a way station for travelers during the Middle Ages, a place to stop for solace and refreshment before going on one’s journey.  In 1967, Dr. Cicely Saunders of London, England founded the first modern hospice. Its intent was to provide humane and caring treatment for terminally-ill patients and their families during this stage of living.  

Concept and Origins of Hospice Atlanta Incorporating

How did Hospice Atlanta get started?

In the spring of 1975, Mona Cascino and Frances West, while working with a fellow member of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta who was dying, became aware that people who knew they were dying need an opportunity to choose how to spend the last stage of their life.

In June of 1975 in a sermon to the U.U.C.A. on death and dying, the concept of hospice was proposed as a solution to the need for providing a more humane way to die.

Out of response to this sermon a nucleus of interested people was formed to take the concept of hospice in Atlanta from an idea to reality.

Is Hospice Atlanta associated with the U. U.C.A.?

Yes.  Since Hospice Atlanta grew out of the context of the U.U.C.A., it was only natural that the Hospice become an ancillary group of the Program Council of the U.U.C.A..

A hospice can be affiliated with numerous organizations or function independently.  There are various models of hospice at present as the concept of Hospice is still in a fluid stage.  

Organization and Initial Goals

What was the first step in the organization of Hospice Atlanta?

At the time that Hospice Atlanta was founded there was no National Hospice Organization or any central organization to give the new hospice in Atlanta direction.  The first step in the organization was to give Hospice Atlanta a sound start by formulating goals towards which the new hospice could strive.

What is Hospice?

Originally “hospice” meant a way station for travelers during the Middle Ages, a place to stop for solace and refreshment before going on with one’s journey.  In 1967, Dr. Cicely Saunders of London, England founded the first modern hospice. Its intent was to provide humane and caring treatment for terminally-ill patients and their families during this stage of living.  At present, there are approximately 130 hospices being formed in 34 of the United States.

On September 19, 1976, an ancillary group of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta, founded Hospice Atlanta, Inc., to provide an alternative to the traditional care of the terminally-ill.  We feel that life is precious from the first breath to the last and that the last should not be experienced in isolation and misery. It is our belief that the lives of family and friends will be enriched if they are allowed to share the last stage of life and the grief that follows.


The hospice concept refers to an approach to providing specialized care to terminally-ill patients and their families.  Hospice Atlanta, Inc. emphasizes:

-help in dealing with emotional, spiritual and material problems of the dying person and family.

-care and support of the entire family.

-maintenance of the patient in the home environment as long as possible, a comprehensive home care program.

-assistance through a group of volunteers which can provide transportation, companionship, social and emotional support and minor bedside care.

-community education and outreach programs.

-access to community resources that have programs in the area of death, dying and bereavement.

Volunteers with Hospice Atlanta, Inc. have undergone specialized training to assist the dying person and the family as if they were close friends.  


-to provide for the terminally-ill person a pain-free opportunity to share the last days with caring people; for the family a comforting, supportive environment.

-develop a day care support center.

-establish a fully-staffed in-patient facility coordinated with resources existing in the community which includes 24 hour a day visiting rights, alcoholic beverages, children, pets, special foods, beloved furnishings and special lovin’.

Visiting Nurse | Hospice Atlanta is a nonprofit 501©3 organization.  Patient services are provided without regard to race, color, creed, age, gender, sexual orientation, handicap (mental or physical), ability to pay, or place of national origin.  Contributions and bequests make our progress possible.