Hospice Care continues to grow in Tampa Bay

Alicia Cato is the executive director of Suncoast Hospice of Hillsborough County. Her experiences from the intensive care unit to the boardroom created a framework for her passion for hospice and what it has to offer to those facing severe illness and end-of-life issues.

BY KAREN DAVIS-PRITCHETT, Empath Health Vice President of Access & Inclusion

Alicia Cato, BSN, RN, CHC, executive director of Suncoast Hospice of Hillsborough County, a member of Empath Health, has been a registered nurse for 35 years. She has experienced many things in that time, from direct patient care to organizational leadership. From the intensive care unit to the boardroom, these experiences created a framework for her passion for hospice and what it has to offer to those facing severe illness and end-of-life issues.

Cato witnessed first-hand how hospice care providers interacted with families, and it left a profound impact on her. The hope and relief they offered during difficult times were like nothing she had experienced. Inspired, she started exploring how she could become more involved in the process.

“These experiences were really gifts as a professional to become a better care provider,” stated Cato. “Every honest, transparent conversation with a family whose loved one was nearing the end of life and every time I set my own emotions aside to be present for a family brought me to where I am today.”

Those valuable lessons in empathy are part of why Cato is now leading the team that will begin implementing the services of Suncoast Hospice in Hillsborough County.

Suncoast Hospice has provided compassionate care to loved ones for more than 40 years. To bring this life-changing care to more community members, Suncoast Hospice received approval from the Agency for Health Care Administration for expansion to Hillsborough County.

“We are excited to bring the quality services provided by Suncoast Hospice to Hillsborough County,” added Cato.

Hospice is not just a part of the continuum of care. It is an essential part of full-life care that includes medical treatment, integrative medicine, volunteer support, counseling, caregiver education, advance care planning, and specialized services for veterans, pediatric, and heart failure patients.

Suncoast Hospice believes everyone should have access to these critical services. Care is never limited by a patient’s ability to pay and honors traditions that are important to our community’s diverse religions and cultures. Families do not have to wait for a physician referral or for a loved one’s passing to become imminent. The services and support of Suncoast Hospice are only a phone call away.

Every patient is unique with their own ideas of how they want to spend the end of life. Suncoast Hospice works with each family to set individualized goals and educates them on the many available choices for care. Those goals can be met wherever the patient resides because hospice is not a place. It is a philosophy of medical, emotional, and spiritual care working together to provide comfort at the end of life’s journey.

“Families and patients go through a lot of stress and distress and when they’re told nothing more can be done,” said Cato. “In hospice, we know we can help that family find their comfort and peace.”

Learn more about how Suncoast Hospice can provide compassionate care for you or a loved one at SuncoastHospice.org.

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