Over several decades, Patricia Lauck developed a passion for hospice.  In the mid 80’s she was hired as a secretary at the largest hospice in the United States.  She had intelligence, compassion and a certain set of skills that worked nicely with whatever she was committed to do.  Most importantly, she was creative, organized and knew how to get things done. She became very valuable to the hospice corporation and moved up rapidly within the company.  In the early 90’s, she became executive assistant to Hugh Westbrook, CEO and Chairman of the hospice corporation.  She would work for Hugh Westbrook for the next thirty years in a variety of professional positions. However, the place where she would really shine and use her talents to the fullest became available when Hugh Westbrook and Esther Colliflower created a hospice foundation to help needy patients and their families with day by day needs that were not covered by the hospice benefit or private insurance.  Helping these hospice patients and their families became Patricia’s real passion. She called herself the Business Manager of The Foundation for End of Life Care. In reality, she was the heart and soul of the Foundation.  She reached out to hospice social workers and hospice programs across the country.  She reached out to their patients and saw that their needs were met.  In turn, many of the hospices made donations to the Foundation in appreciation of the many things that she did for others.  Patricia did all of the day by day work of the Foundation and kept it solvent during hard times. She had skills with woodworking, jewelry making, sculptures and crafts.  She would create many collectible items with her skills.  She would sell them at craft fairs and donate all of the money earned to the Foundation. This was her commitment; and, it became her life work.

When she was not working on how to help hospice patients and their families and make the Foundation even stronger, Patricia delighted in her two companions. She had a beloved and loyal dog that was so much a part of her life; and, her joy was evident in her best friend and longtime significant other, Sean Martin. She will be sorely missed by them, by her friends and loved ones, and by all of those who became a part of the Foundation.

The Foundation is fortunate to have found an Acting Director in Steve Westbrook, who has worked for hospice in San Diego and other parts of the country. Steve has already stepped in and is continuing the fine charitable work that Patricia did so well for many years.

Esther Colliflower
Co-founder and Former Vice Chair of the Board of Directors
Vitas HealthCare (formerly Hospice of Miami)

Longtime nurse Esther Colliflower wrote a new chapter in the care of terminally ill patients and influenced the evolution of the American hospice industry as the visionary co-founder of what became the VITAS HealthCare Corp.

Colliflower’s professional training included two years at Miami Dade College, a nursing degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a master’s with a focus on adult education from the University of San Francisco — Lone Mountain.

When the youngest of her eight children started school, Colliflower returned to MDC as an instructor, joining a Methodist minister, Hugh Westbrook, to teach a human sexuality course. They later developed a course called “Life Affirmation and Death Attitudes,” which attracted like-minded professionals.

Convinced that traditional health care was failing patients at the end of their lives, Colliflower and Westbrook researched compassionate alternatives and in 1978 launched Hospice of Miami. Colliflower cared for their first patient, who lost her quality of life through extensive chemotherapy and radiation treatments. She simply wanted to die peacefully at home — as she did a month later — instead of a hospital.

Among the sea changes Colliflower introduced to end-of-life care was enrichment of life and a decision-making team that went beyond the doctor to include the patient, his or her family and an aide or social worker.

Hospice of Miami achieved major breakthroughs in 1979 when, after much lobbying from Colliflower and Westbrook, the Florida Legislature enacted the nation’s first hospice licensing law, and in 1982, when hospice care became a Medicare benefit, opening a sustainable new revenue stream.

With Colliflower serving as its chief patient- and family-care officer, Hospice of Miami eventually became VITAS HealthCare. Colliflower continued as a director, vice chair of the board of directors and senior vice president of the company until retiring in 2004.

“Miami Dade College guided my entry into nursing and years later I drew on those early lessons to help improve care for the terminally ill.”



The Foundation for End-of-Life Care, Inc. was founded in 1999 as a not for profit charitable organization by Hugh Westbrook & Esther Colliflower who were the founders of Vitas Healthcare Corporation.  Since its inception, The Foundation has been supporting the special needs of hospice patients and their families nationwide by providing financial grants to support their monthly living expenses. The Foundation continues to operate as a stand-alone not for profit Foundation doing business under its legal name(s); Foundation for End-Of-Life Care, Inc., Hospice Foundation for End-Of-Life Care, Inc., & Vitas Hospice Charitable Fund.