Empath Health President and CEO Rafael J. Sciullo

From Empath Health President and CEO Rafael J. Sciullo

I remember visiting an Italian woman named Maria. She had a thick New York accent and was married to John, who was dying of cancer. They had opera playing and pictures in their home. John consistently smiled as he spoke. I asked him, “Why opera?” and he said, “Rafael, because it takes me to a place I want to be.”

That was the greatest lesson I have learned from a patient. We must take patients at the most vulnerable time in life to a place they want to be.

There are about 4,000 hospices in the U.S. and Suncoast Hospice is one of only five celebrating a 40th anniversary. There are a lot of firsts here. We were part of the creation of the Medicare hospice benefit and we were chosen for the location of the unveiling of the national hospice care stamp. We have had challenging times, too. Caring for Terri Schiavo brought us national attention but our principles really guided us in doing the right thing for her. And we cared for AIDS patients when the rest of the world turned away.

Suncoast Hospice teen volunteers spread cheer

The specialness and quality of this hospice resonate today. There are very few hospices that have the scope of programs for patients and families as we do. We are well known for our pediatric program. Through our larger Empath Health network of care, EPIC (Empath Partners in Care) is the largest HIV services provider in Tampa Bay and Suncoast PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly) is at its highest number of participants.

We want to provide access to as many people as we need to in the community. We honor diversity and inclusion, have different approaches to care and focus on best practices and doing the right thing.

I want to carry forward our legacy, fortitude and courage. The charge is to live our mission and extend ourselves to people who have given us the honor to serve them in the best ways possible. We must continue to provide the best care and always keep the focus on the patient, the client or the family.

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