Elizabeth Ford Pitorak MSN, CNS, FPCN
In 1978 Elizabeth Ford Pitorak MSN, CNS, FPCN founded the Hospice of the Western Reserve, the first hospice in the Western Reserve of Ohio. Today that program is one of the ten largest in the United States. Ms. Pitorak has recently expanded her life work as the Executive Director and founder of Pathways for Pets, a palliative care and hospice program with the mission to relieve suffering and promote quality of life for companion animals facing a life-limiting illness. Using the human hospice model, the same principles are being applied to companion animals in creating pet hospice, a relatively new program for animals. (See pathwaysforpets.org.)
Ms. Pitorak is recognized as a pioneer and expert in the hospice field not only locally, but nationally and internationally. For over 35 years, she has worked in the field of hospice and pain management, lectured to multidisciplinary groups, and published papers and chapters on end-of-life nursing. Her article on “Care at the Time of Death” was quoted in a piece written by the health editor of the New York Times. Nationally, she served on both the membership and foundation Board of Directors of the Hospice & Palliative Nurses Association and was a past president on both boards. Internationally, she traveled to Korea and Slovakia to consult and teach hospice/palliative care philosophy.
Ms. Pitorak received her bachelor’s degree from Ohio State University and her master’s degree in nursing with a teaching major from the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University. She received both the Award for Excellence from the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing Alumni Association and the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Ohio State University College of Nursing Alumni Society. Ms. Pitorak was the project director for Project Safe Conduct funded by a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Promoting Excellence in End-of-Life Care grant. In 2002 the project was awarded the Circle of Life Award for its innovative model of palliative care, as well as, the 2002 Award of Excellence in Education from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. In 2005, she was recognized by the Cleveland Chapter Oncology Nurse Society with the Shirley Gullo Creative Spirit Award. She was the recipient of the Leading the Way Award (2005) and the Distinguished Career Achievement Award (2007) both from the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association. She was recognized in a series of influential people, “The Power of One”, in an article in the New Herald (2013). In 2014, the Ohio State Nursing Alumni Association had its centennial celebration and Ms. Pitorak was honored as one of 100 Nurse Transformers.