Our History

Over forty years ago, a small group of volunteers in Central Oregon became the first to deliver a unique method of giving care to patients with life-limiting illnesses. Their vision was influenced by a growing movement of holistic, end-of-life care gaining popularity in Europe, and they embraced the philosophy of Dame Cicely Saunders, the founder of the modern hospice movement. Her principles included treating the whole person while focusing on the patient and family at the center of the caregiving circle – a philosophy we continue to honor today.

That vision, along with a few volunteers and ten patients, has grown into Partners In Care – a vibrant, growing organization now serving four counties and thousands of residents annually.

Partners In Care is proud to be Central Oregon’s only independent, non-hospital based, not-for-profit home health and hospice agency.


  • Late 1979
    • Long before the hospice Medicare benefit, visionaries in the Bend Community formed “Friends of Hospice.” It was an all-volunteer organization. Initial director was Jo Barrett who was the Red Cross Manager and was based at the Red Cross office. Ivan Eastwood was the first medical director. Erma Shoemaker, a nursing instructor at the community college, was the first nursing coordinator and volunteer organizer.
  • 1980
    • Newspaper articles highlight attempt to educate public and local physicians to hospice care.
    • At that time, Friends of Hospice is the only hospice in Oregon seeing patients.
  • Early 80’s
    • Helen Durant becomes executive director.
  • 1985
    • Peg Gunnels becomes executive director. She is the first paid employee. With an emphasis on Oncology, Rob Boone, MD becomes medical director. Separated from Red Cross with an office at the regional hospital, the nursing was contracted.
  • 1988
    • Accredited by the Oregon Hospice Association.
  • 1990
    • Name changed to Hospice of Bend.
    • Medicare certified with help from many organizations.
    • Move to Galveston St. location, Bend, Oregon.
    • Jeff Boggess, MD becomes medical director.
  • 1991
    • Name changed to Hospice of Bend La Pine.
    • Stephen Kornfeld, MD becomes medical director.
  • 1992
    • Rob Luck becomes executive director.
  • 1996
    • Joe Linman volunteers as executive director.
  • 1998
    • Madrigal dinner becomes signature fundraising event.
    • Richard Groves becomes executive director and then Sharon Strohecker.
    • Wins the National Hospice Organization’s Awards of Excellence in educational programming for public service announcements featuring patients and care providers.
  • 1999
    • Children’s bereavement program started in local schools.
    • Plans begin to construct Hospice House.
  • 2001
    • Capital Campaign for Hospice House launched.
    • Joint Commission features Bend’s medical community in a documentary video about end-of-life care.
  • 2002
    • Groundbreaking ceremony for the new building and Hospice House.
  • 2003
    • Medicare statistics single out Deschutes County for excellent end-of-life care.
    • New building is completed and dedicated.
  • 2005
    • Jim Elmslie becomes executive director.
    • Wine by the River fundraiser begins.
    • Lisa Lews, MD becomes medical director.
  • 2006
    • Name changed to Hospice Center.
    • Eric Alexander becomes executive director.
  • 2009
    • Merger of Hospice Center and Central Oregon Home Health & Hospice results in new 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation called Partners In Care, Inc.
    • Services expand to include continuum of care including PIC Transitions, Home Health, Hospice, Hospice House, and Community Bereavement.