The longtime leader of HMC Hospice of Medina County is retiring at the end of the month.
Pat Stropko-O’Leary, 71, has served as executive director of HMC since 1993.
Under her leadership, HMC expanded to include a home health-care agency, the Robertson Bereavement Center, HMC Barberton Hospice & Palliative Care and Life’s Treasures Thrift Shop.
Stropko-O’Leary also oversaw the opening of Medina County’s only dedicated, freestanding inpatient center for end-of-life care in 2012.
The 16-bed inpatient hospice care center, located adjacent to a park, is designed to give patients a peaceful setting for their final days, she said.
“The community built this building,” she said. “The community certainly has a beautiful asset for end-of-life care.”
During her tenure, the nonprofit organization has grown from fewer than 10 employees to more than 160 today.
In a news release, Cindy Steeb, board president of HMC Hospice of Medina County, said Stropko-O’Leary “has made tremendous contributions to the organizations and to the Medina community.”
Stropko-O’Leary said she opted to dedicate much of her career to hospice services because “there is so much misinformation” about end-of-life care.
“We allow families to be the family and we’re providing the care,” she said. “It takes that level of tension off.”
The HMC board of trustees recently appointed Helen A. “Mitzi” Kerr to serve as interim executive director for several months while a search is conducted for Stropko-O’Leary’s successor.
Kerr retired 2½ years ago from the Cleveland Clinic Medina Hospital, where she worked as a registered nurse and held several nursing director positions.
She also previously served on HMC’s board.
Free cancer luncheon
Summa Western Reserve Hospital in Cuyahoga Falls is hosting its annual Cancer Awareness Luncheon from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. on Jan. 21 in the hospital auditorium.
The free event will feature a fashion show with models who are cancer patients receiving treatments at the hospital. Clothes Mentor is providing the clothing.
Participants also can get a free chair massage and health information, including facts on cancer prevention and treatment.
Larkin Rogers, executive chef of the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park, will be preparing healthful comfort foods.
Reservations are required by Thursday. For more information or to register, email Kathy Romito at email@example.com or call 330-971-7408.
Lung cancer declines
The rate of new lung cancer cases nationwide has been dropping, according to a new federal report.
The incidence rates for lung cancer declined from 87 per 100,000 men in 2005 to 78 per 100,000 men in 2009, according to a report published in a recent edition of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
The incidence rates for U.S. women also declined from 57 per 100,000 to 54 per 100,000.
Men and women ages 35 to 44 had the biggest decrease in cases.
“These dramatic declines in the number of young adults with lung cancer show that tobacco prevention control programs work — when they are applied,” said CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden in a news release.
Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death in the United States and the second most commonly diagnosed cancer.
“While it is encouraging that lung cancer incidence rates are dropping in the United States, one preventable cancer is one too many,” Frieden said. “Implementation of tobacco control strategies is needed to reduce smoking prevalence and the lung cancer it causes among men and women.”
Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Powell on Twitter at twitter.com/abjcherylpowell.