Care for our community and beyond

From Left: Jonathan Fleece, president & CEO of Stratum Health System and Rafael Sciullo, president & CEO of Empath Health


BY RAFAEL J. SCIULLO, President & CEO of Empath Health

For 43 years, Suncoast Hospice, a member of Empath Health, has been committed to providing compassionate care to patients and families in Pinellas County. Now, exciting times are on the horizon for our community.

Recently, we received notification from the Agency for Health Care Administration that Suncoast Hospice has been granted a provisional award to expand services into Hillsborough County. This is an incredible opportunity to build upon our existing programs and provide care for even more people who have been traditionally underserved by palliative care programs, such as the African American and Hispanic communities.

Expanded access to hospice services into Hillsborough County is just one way Empath Health is growing to serve families in our area better.

In late February, Empath Health and Stratum Health System announced that we are in formal discussions to merge our two organizations with a full integration date of January 2023. This combined organization will have the capabilities to be the largest hospice-based not-for-profit integrated network of care providers in the United States, focused on serving anyone facing chronic or advanced illness and caring for over 6,000 people daily.

Empath Health and Stratum Health System share a commitment to preserving the mission of not-for-profit hospice, home care, and community-based services as equal partners. As Empath Health serves Tampa Bay, Stratum focuses on hospice and home-based care in Southwest Florida. Its family of services includes Tidewell Hospice, which provides care throughout Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte and DeSoto counties.

Both organizations independently operate in good business and financial health but recognize that we must plan for the future. By creating a stronger, more formidable organization, we aim to ensure the trusted services we provide will continue to be available throughout the greater Tampa Bay area and Southwest Florida. We are extremely excited about combining our best practices and continuing to create innovative services to care for everyone in our communities who need us.

At this time, the merger has no direct impact on patients and their families, volunteers, donors, referral sources or the Boards of Directors of the current organizations. Empath Health and Stratum Health System and all affiliated services will continue to operate under their respective names.

Together, the two organizations will be “United in Care,” providing trusted, integrated care solutions for the lives in which we are blessed to care. This also includes the tremendous support we provide to patients’ families and the communities we serve. Together, we will continue to exemplify what it means to be not-for-profit compassionate caregivers demonstrating open minds, brave spirits, pioneering hearts, grateful voices and a healing presence for the work we so passionately love.

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