The History of Hospice and Hospice of San Joaquin

“Hospice Affirms Life!...Hospice exists in the hope and belief that through appropriate care and promotion of a caring community, sensitive to their needs, the dying and their families are helped to attain a greater mental and spiritual freedom. This freedom is the garden in which acceptance and preparation are nurtured”

~Proposal for Hospice for the Stockton Community, 1980


    The First Hospice

    The first recorded hospice began in Malta dedicated to caring for the ill and dying making pilgrimages to the Holy Land. 


    Hospice Expands Within Religous Institutions 

    The Irish Sisters of Charity opened a hospice in Dublin, Ireland, serving as many as 20,000 dying patients. The group expanded, opening hospices in London, Melbourne, Sydney and New South Wales. Many of these remain operating today.


    The First Community-Funded Hospice

    Royal Trinity Hospice in London opens. This hospice was founded not by a religious order, but a private citizen, William Hoare, who fundraised through the newspaper to create a home "for the man who is neither curable nor incurable, but simply dying."


    The First Modern Hospice

    St. Christopher's Hospice, regarded as the "first modern hospice" opens in London.


    Hospice of San Joaquin is Founded

    In 1980 a group of concerned nurses and social workers came together to review the need for hospice services in San Joaquin County. Their “Proposal for Hospice in the Stockton Community” was published in August 1980.  And on November 5, 1980 Hospice of San Joaquin was incorporated as a California Nonprofit Benefit Corporation. Our first ‘office’ was a single phone on a folding table in Delta Blood Bank’s storage room.


    Our First Patients

    In January of 1982, with a full 12 member volunteer Board of Directors and a volunteer interdisciplinary care team we were ready to serve patients and their families in San Joaquin County. Our first five patients were scattered across the county and we worked diligently to meet their needs wherever they called home. As awareness and need for our services grew, so did we. Tracy and Manteca patient care teams were formed, and services and staffing were expanded.

    Barbara Tognoli, MA

    Executive Director

    Robert Brown, MD
    Medical Director Emeritus


    Office Move  & Medicare Access

    Hospice of San Joaquin offices move to San Joaquin General Hospital. Hospice benefits are added to Medicare.


    Service Area Expands

    Tracy and Manteca patient care teams are formed as Hospice of San Joaquin expanded services beyond Stockton to all of San Joaquin County. Hospice of San Joaquin is added as a United Way Agency.


    Community Grief Support

    Hospice of San Joaquin accredited by the Joint Commission of Health Care Organizations demonstrating organizational and clinical excellence. Since 1985, we have retained this highest level of accreditation.

    Our first adult and children's greif support groups began. As much as 80% of grief support participents do not recieve hospice services from Hospice of San Joaquin. Grief support, like hospice care, was recognized as an area of need in our community. To this day, Hospice of San Joaquin's grief support services are free and open to everyone in the community. 

    One of these programs is our Camp Caterpillar, a day camp for grieving children in kindergarten through eighth grade,  offered each fall. Activities such as arts and crafts, music, journaling, and games are designed to help children express and learn to cope with their feelings of grief. The camp gained its name after the changes a caterpillar must go through in their process of becoming a butterfly.


    Joint Commission Accreditation 

    Hospice of San Joaquin accredited by the Joint Commission of Health Care Organizations demonstrating organizational and clinical excellence. Since 1987, we have retained this highest level of accreditation. Hospice of San Joaquin was one of the first hospices in the nation to achieve this level of care.


    Tree of Lights

    First Tree of Lights in Stockton, honoring departed loved ones. Tree of Lights began when Mark Rasmussen wanted to honor his late wife Kathy, who had recieved hospice services from Hospice of San Joaquin. Mark was a PG&E employee who rallied his co-workers to create the first Tree of Lights at the San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton. The enormous pine tree at the corner of Pacific and Yokuts Avenue continues to be lit up year after year in honor of all our departed loved ones. Now retired from PG&E, Dave continues to volunteer for Tree of Lights each year. The program has since expanded to 8 total cities in our area: Stockton, Lodi, Manteca, Ripon, Rio Vista, Lathrop, Lockeford, Tracy, and Escalon. All are welcomed to dedicate a light to remember or honor a loved one. The light donations help support the agency’s programs of nursing care and bereavement services for terminally ill patients and their families.


    Medicare Certification

    Hospice of San Joaquin licensed as a Home Health Agency to provide hospice care and certified by Medicare and Medi-Cal.


    Presidential Daily Point of Light

    Hospice of San Joaquin received national recognition in 1990 when President George H. W. Bush selected us as the first Presidential Daily Point of Light in Northern California. The Daily Point of Light Award honors individuals and groups creating meaningful change in communities across America. We were honored to be the 182nd point in the President’s Thousand Points of Light Campaign.


    Hospice of San Joaquin Center for Caring

    We quickly outgrew our original office, moving first to Benton Hall on the grounds of San Joaquin General Hospital, then to a two story home on Park Street where we grew and thrived until the early nineties. In 1995 we opened the Hospice of San Joaquin Center for Caring at Hammer Lane and Lorraine Avenue. This spacious building became home for over 60 staff and volunteers, allowing us to offer comprehensive education for patients, families, health care providers, volunteers, and the larger community.


    Hospice of San Joaquin Butterfly Auxiliary

    Hospice Butterfly Auxiliary is founded by a dynamic group of professional women in the San Joaquin community. Their mission was to raise funds for our Hospice House - which was being built at the time. Today the Butterfly Auxiliary has chapters in Stockton, Lodi and Tracy and fundraise through annual events that have become community staples. , a dynamic group of professional women who work to fulfill the ongoing needs of the Hospice of San Joaquin Hospice House through fundraisers and rallying of community support


    Hospice House Opens

    There was a growing need for a larger office for our staff and a place our patients could call home when the need arose - a "Hospice House". This started a two year process resulting in the opening of our current campus on Pacific Avenue in 2004. The Hospice House provides 24-hour nursing and compassionate personal care for patients enrolled in our hospice program who cannot remain in their own homes. The Hospice House is supported in part through generous community donations and fundraising by the Hospice of San Joaquin Butterfly Auxiliary.Built and moved into our current campus on Pacific Avenue. This campus included the long-awaited Hospice House opening. The Hospice House is a 24-hour in-patient care facility for hospice patients. It remains the only one of its kind in all of San Joaquin County.

  • 2009

    An International Standard of Excellence

    The United States Department of Commerce Special American Business Internship Program held Hospice of San Joaquin up as the standard for hospice care in the United States when they brought Health Care Leaders from the former Soviet Union to benchmark Hospice of San Joaquin in 2009.

    Youth Grief Support Expands

    Our Bereavement Department expands to include programs for teenageers as part of our mission to continue to provide free grief support to everyone in need in our community. 

  • 2014

    Lodi Satalliete Office opens

    Satellite offices serve as an additional work spot for our nurses and social workers, and a meeting location for grief support and volunteer groups, and a more convenient location for members of the community to visit to find out about services. Lodi serves as our northernmost satelite office with Manteca serving in the South from 2012-2024 (replaced with an office in Modesto). 


    $1 Million Milestone

    The Butterfly Auxiliary reaches $1,000,000 in total funds raised for the Hospice House.


    Memory Bear Program 

    Memory Bear program started. Volunteers create a beautiful keepsake bear out of patient's clothing at no cost to the family.



    Pacific Palliative Care program launches

    Pacific Palliative Care program begins. Palliative Care focuses on pain and symptom management and patients do not need a terminal diagnosis for the program.

  • 2023

    Full-Circle Aftercare program launches

    Hospice of San Joaquin now provides Full-Circle Aftercare, a concierge service that personally walks the family through each step of closing the personal affairs of a deceased loved one.  During this difficult time, they will make the calls, close the accounts and setup appointments on your behalf.  What takes most families 18-24 months to complete, Full-Circle Aftercare can complete on average within 1 to 2 days.