Florence Wald, known worldwide for her efforts to improve care for the dying through hospice, has died at the age of 91. An announcement from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization said Wald died peacefully at her home in Connecticut on Nov. 8.
Born in the Bronx in New York City in 1917, Wald earned a bachelors degree from Mount Holyoke College and three degrees from Yale University: Master of Nursing, Master of Science and an honorary doctorate in medical science. She began her career in the New York Visiting Nurse Service, and later served as the dean of the school of nursing at Yale from 1959 until 1968, according to a biography on the Center for Nursing Advocacys Web site. Wald was inspired by the late Cicely Saunders, the nurse, physician and writer who is best known for her role in the start of the hospice movement at St. Christophers Hospice in London. Wald invited Saunders to serve as a visiting faculty member of the Yale School of Nursing for a term in 1965.
Florence Wald was a true American pioneer and her work led to fundamental changes in the care that dying people in this country receive, said J. Donald Schumacher, president and chief executive officer of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, in a news release. Her leadership, dedication and visionary understandings of caring for people at the end of life have been instrumental to the work being done every day in hospice and palliative-care programs across the country. -- by Jessica Zigmond