Clearwater, FL — Empath Health and Stratum Health System announced today that their Boards of Directors have formally approved the merger of the two organizations, pending regulatory approval.  The merger will create the country’s largest not-for-profit health system delivering non-acute care and services through its skilled, significant medical and holistic programs to individuals with chronic, advanced and terminal illnesses.

The combined organization will serve over 6,000 patients a day, creating a bridge between chronic, advanced and terminal care and providing seamless integration based on patient needs.  In addition, it will provide a variety of community-based programs that reflect their commitment to the preservation of their charitable missions.

This announcement comes at the end of an unprecedented year for both organizations, as they have responded to the global pandemic.  During 2020, they worked collaboratively to obtain personal protective equipment (PPE), share best practices, and strengthen their overall processes to support their patients and families.  Together, they will continue that momentum as they lead change both internally and within the industry at the state and national level.

“Today, we humbly come together to commit to combining our organizations in a thoughtful and meaningful way which will create positive impact across the communities we serve, the business partners we engage and the larger industry as a whole.  As the saying goes, bigger does not automatically make you better.  It is what we do with that opportunity that will allow us to create meaningful change while continuing to excel at doing what we do best … providing compassionate care to our patients and their families,” said Rafael Sciullo, president and CEO of Empath Health.

Jonathan Fleece, president and CEO of Stratum Health System added: “We are excited for this opportunity.  We both have strong, passionate teams that are ready to engage in building the new organization.  Our colleagues are the heart and soul of our organizations and it is an honor to work beside them every day.  As we finalize our plans to bring the two organizations together we are committed to improving all aspects of our business by listening not only to our colleagues but to our patients, their families, our business partners and the larger communities we call home.”

Empath Health’s integrated care network supports patients with chronic, advanced and terminal illness in greater Tampa Bay. Its family of services includes Suncoast Hospice.

Stratum Health System is focused on managing the continuum of care through hospice and home-based care throughout Southwest Florida. Tidewell Hospice is Stratum’s most recognized brand.

Key highlights of the merger include:

  • Rafael Sciullo, president and CEO of Empath Health, and Jonathan Fleece, president and CEO of Stratum Health System, will come together and align under the newly formed entity. Sciullo will serve as the CEO and Fleece will serve as the president of the as yet unnamed new organization.
  • As previously announced, Sciullo has announced his plans for retirement in January 2023. At that time, Fleece will become the president and CEO of the new organization.
  • Empath Health/Suncoast Hospice and Stratum Health System/Tidewell Hospice will continue to operate under those respective names.

Together, the new organization will provide access to care for more Florida residents as well as the programs and services that represent the excellent quality of care for which both organizations are known.

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


About Empath Health

Empath Health is a leading Tampa Bay, Florida nonprofit, integrated network of care that provides expert medical, counseling and support services to comfort anyone facing chronic or advanced illness or grief. We began in 1977 as Suncoast Hospice and today, our care teams serve hospice, home health, palliative, veteran and pediatric patients, aging seniors, clients with HIV/AIDS, families and caregivers. We also provide advance directives assistance, HIV/AIDS prevention and education, as well as grief and crisis counseling.

Since 1977, Suncoast Hospice has been honored to be Pinellas County’s not-for-profit provider of compassionate hospice care and bereavement support services for patients and families nearing the final stages of life or grieving the deaths of loved ones. As an Empath Health member, we focus on bringing holistic comfort and dignity through our medical and integrative treatment, emotional and spiritual care and palliative and support services. Families and caregivers also are comforted with training, support and healing. Suncoast Hospice is accredited by The Joint Commission.

About Stratum Health System

Founded in 2015, Stratum Health System was created as a not-for-profit integrated health care network to oversee and support the missions of Tidewell Hospice, Approved Home Health, Avidity Home Health, Connexis Medical Services, SCATA Real Estate and Treasures Thrift Shop. Its foundation is based on the strong reputation, financial strength and capacity for growth established by Tidewell Hospice since 1980.  Stratum Health System is focused on managing the “continuum of care” of its patients. We combine the exceptional care of hospice, home health and home-based primary care with specialized care management, all with the goal of providing better care to our patients. Stratum is well positioned to preserve and build upon Tidewell Hospice’s recognized brand in the community while establishing itself as a leader in providing highly integrated, exceptional health care to our patients—wherever they may live in the communities we serve. Stratum is moving ahead to forge new relationships and develop new care models to integrate the care provided across the continuum.

For 40 years, Tidewell Hospice has been an independent, not-for-profit health provider offering a home-centered, comprehensive system of end-of-life and palliative care for people living with advanced illness and their families.  Annually, Tidewell provides care for nearly 10,000 patients throughout its four-county service area of Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte and DeSoto counties. Hospice houses and offices are located in Arcadia, Bradenton, Englewood, Lakewood Ranch, Palmetto, Port Charlotte, Sarasota and Venice.  As the region’s only not-for-profit hospice, Tidewell relies on donor contributions to provide a number of its acclaimed patient and community services. Tidewell is accredited by the Community Health Accreditation Partner (CHAP) with deemed status, signifying excellent care and meeting Medicare’s conditions of participation.