President and CEO of Empath Health Jonathan Fleece (left) and CEO of Hospice of Marion County Rick Bourne (right)

February 15, 2023 — Empath Health and Hospice of Marion County (HMC) announced today their Boards of Directors formally approved the affiliation of Hospice of Marion County with Empath Health, pending regulatory approvals.

Community-based, not-for-profit HMC will become an affiliate member of Empath Health, along with Suncoast Hospice, Suncoast Hospice of Hillsborough and Tidewell Hospice, already serving the west central and southwest areas of Florida. Additionally, Empath Health won the final CON award to open a new not-for-profit hospice in Polk, Highlands and Hardee counties later in 2023. These expansions further the commitment of Empath Health to provide life-changing hospice care in the communities it serves.

“We are so pleased to receive the final board approvals for this new affiliation,” said Rick Bourne, CEO of Hospice of Marion County. “Hospice of Marion County’s objective of partnering with an organization that shares the same core values and dedication to providing expert, compassionate hospice care to our communities has been realized. Our board and leadership team gave much consideration to the type and reputation of the organization we wanted to join and Empath Health was the obvious choice.”

HMC has served the community since 1983. Their service excellence has been recognized by the Joint Commission with Deemed Status exhibiting that they not only meet but exceed standards set by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid. In addition to hospice services, the agency includes Carewell Supportive Care, a palliative care provider for pain and symptom management and durable medical equipment supplier Accent Medical that serves hospice patients and families and sells directly to the public. HMC also boasts four thrift stores that financially support the organization and will be establishing a foundation to ensure all donation monies remain in and continue to benefit the patient programs of Marion County.

Jonathan Fleece, President and CEO of Empath Health said, “Today we come together and commit to affiliating our organizations in intentional and meaningful ways that will positively impact the communities we serve. We are extremely excited to have Hospice of Marion County joining the Empath Health integrated network of care and look forward to working together for the benefit of our patients, families, business partners and colleagues.”

Key highlights of the affiliation include:

  • Rick Bourne will remain CEO of Hospice of Marion County and assume a new leadership role with Empath Health. He will also serve as an ex-officio member of the Empath Health Board.
  • The Hospice of Marion County Board of Directors will have two seats on the Empath Health Board, including one seat on the Executive Committee.
  • While Hospice of Marion County will rebrand to be part of the Empath Health family of brands, they will continue operating under the name Hospice of Marion County.

The two organizations will continue to work closely together to obtain the final regulatory approvals, which are expected to occur in the next few months.


Empath Health is one of the country’s largest not-for-profit health system delivering non-acute care and services through its skilled, medical and holistic programs to individuals with chronic, advanced and terminal illnesses and those experiencing grief. The Empath Health integrated network of care provides expert medical, counseling and support services including hospice; home health; palliative care; grief services; all-inclusive elder care; HIV/STI prevention services and support; primary care; physician services; and full-service pharmacy and durable medical equipment (DME). Empath Health is honored to have more than 26,000 people enrolled in our Full Life Care services in north central, west central and southwest Florida. We have nearly 90 combined years of experience serving individuals during some of their most vulnerable times. Our wide variety of community-based programs reflects our commitment to the preservation of our charitable mission.


About Hospice of Marion County (HMC): A not-for-profit locally operated hospice, HMC has provided compassionate end-of-life care for patients and their families since 1983. Patients may receive services in their own home, assisted living facility, nursing home or in one of our three hospice houses. A comprehensive hospice model, HMC is the county’s third largest healthcare company and earned Deemed Status designation from the Joint Commission, the national gold standard for quality healthcare.