Empath Health is saying goodbye to its visionary leader, Rafael J. Sciullo.
By Karen Davis-Pritchett M.Ed., Empath Health Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
The new year is traditionally a time for beginnings. But this new year is different at Empath Health. We are saying goodbye to a visionary leader while looking back at all he has done for our organization and community.
Rafael J. Sciullo became the CEO of Suncoast Hospice in 2013 in what turned out to be the capstone of an impactful career of service. In 2014, Sciullo launched Empath Health to encompass the full life care being provided in our communities and allow for the growth of new programs and services, as well as welcoming organizations that fit with our mission.
Before leading Suncoast and Empath, Sciullo spent 10 years as a Franciscan friar, ministered to people with advanced and terminal illnesses as an oncology social worker and served those dying from AIDS in San Diego as a social worker. After meeting Florence Wald, one of the founders of the hospice movement, he was inspired to provide patient and family-centered care to people at the end of life, no matter how the healthcare business might change. Sciullo served as president and CEO of Family Hospice in Pittsburgh, Pa., before joining Suncoast and Empath.
“There is no more important job humans can do for one another than caring for patients at the end of life,” Sciullo said.
In the time since he became Empath’s leader, Sciullo has expanded its home health program, overseen the expansion of its HIV, STI and senior care services, and developed new partnerships with other healthcare and community organizations.
Sciullo has long been recognized as a leader and innovator in the hospice field. He was presented with the Galen Miller Leadership Award at the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s 2022 Leadership and Advocacy Conference. The award recognizes a champion and advocate who has demonstrated the highest dedication and passion for the hospice and palliative care community and the patients and families that receive care.
Sciullo also is committed to increasing access to care and opportunity for all people. He was instrumental in creating Empath Health’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives resulting in the creation of a DEI department and Community Partnership Specialist roles to work with communities traditionally underserved by hospice and palliative care services. He was instrumental in creating the Vice President of Access and Inclusion, a position to which I was appointed in 2019. That position later became Vice President of Diversity Equity and Inclusion.
“To truly live Empath Health’s mission of full life care for all, we must continue to make a commitment to bringing our care to everyone,” Sciullo said.
Last year, Sciullo received the Legacy Award from the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance of Florida. The Legacy Award celebrates the commitment and efforts of leaders and advocates within the African American community throughout Florida. The mission of the organization is to bring positive change to Florida communities.
Through Sciullo’s leadership, Empath Health has not only shown the value of diversity of its colleagues but its commitment to impactful community engagement and ensuring equal access to care and support for all.
His steady hand and caring heart will be missed at Empath Health and throughout the healthcare field.
“I am now ready to move to the next stage of the unfolding of my life’s journey as it’s time for me to step back and retire,” Sciullo said. “I look forward to shifting my focus to enjoying more time with family and friends and what this next chapter will offer. I am grateful for the warm welcome this community provided years ago and look forward to remaining a part of the fabric of it in the future.”
To learn more about Empath Health’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiative, visit EmpathHealth.org/Diversity-and-Inclusion.