About - History & Mission


Good Shepherd Community Care is dedicated to the delivery of the highest quality of care, support and education for those experiencing or anticipating serious illness and loss. 


In 1978, Hospice of the Good Shepherd was created as the first hospice in Massachusetts by a compassionate, visionary group of people from the Parish of the Good Shepherd, an Episcopal Church in Newton. Good Shepherd emerged from its community with the belief that the community wanted to, and could care for itself. That even in increasingly fragmented times, the power and strength of a community directed to caring can alter the experience of any illness.

Though for many years, Hospice of the Good Shepherd carried its name from our neighboring Parish, we have always been an independent, community-based, not-for-profit, non-sectarian, hospice care agency. We have, at times, struggled with the reality that our name could create a misunderstanding that may alienate some people from our care when they need it most. The spiritual care we provide is driven only by the beliefs and preferences of our patients and their loved ones. At one point several years ago we considered dropping Good Shepherd from our name to avoid creating any opportunity for misunderstanding for those who are Jewish, of another non-Christian faith, or non-religious.

Over these past 41 years, however, this name has come to mean something to many members of our community and we believe that meaning holds more value than its potential for misperception subtracts. Because we expect both the diversity and depth of our programs to continue to grow, Good Shepherd Community Care is the name that we feel most reflects our identity. As reflected in the feelings of the families we serve, much of our work is to guide and shepherd our patients and families through times that are often otherwise dark and unfamiliar.

A History of Leadership

  • 1978 - Good Shepherd (then Hospice of the Good Shepherd) became the first hospice in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts 
  • 1979 - Good Shepherd was designated as one of only 26 national hospice demonstration projects under the Health Care Financing Administration and one of 5 demonstration projects under Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (1980)
  • 1979-1983 Good Shepherd participated as part of the National Hospice Study which evaluated the impact of hospice care along with Brown University and Abt Associates
  • 1978 - Good Shepherd became a founding member of the Massachusetts Hospice Federation with its first Executive Director (Linda Kilburn) serving as the first President. The initial Federation worked to develop state hospice licensure and secured the first “Certificate of Need” for Inpatient Hospice Care. Many members of Good Shepherd’s early staff educated at state and national levels for the MA Hospice Federation, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and the Joint Commission for the Accreditation of Health Care Organizations (JCAHO). 
  • 1983 – The hospice Medicare benefit was voted in as part of the Tax Equality and Fiscal Responsibility Act (TEFRA) in large part due to the work of Good Shepherd staff in conjunction with staff of several other hospices who assisted the Health Care Financing Administration in the development of regulations governing hospice under the new benefit. 
  • 1988 & 1997 - Two Hospice Operations Manuals were written (respectively) for distribution by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization based in large part on the work developed at Good Shepherd.  
  • 2010 – Good Shepherd launched the first fully comprehensive Russian-Speaking Hospice Program in the U.S.