Hospice, Home Care Providers Empath Health and Stratum to Merge 

Empath Health, owner of Suncoast Hospice, and Stratum Health, which operates Tidewell Hospice, plan to merge their two companies with an anticipated integration date of January 2023.

The two Florida-based companies intend to build a combined, hospice-based integrated care network that would provide home- and community-based services to patients suffering from serious and chronic disease through the course of their illnesses until the end of life. The new company would have estimated annual gross revenue of $300 million.

“We experienced a lot of changes in the [health care] environment — with payers, with demands, with regulatory bodies, with competition — and we just felt it was absolutely critical thing to do for two leaders in not only advanced illness and terminal care, but also chronic care, to merge our resources to merge our expertise, our desire, our passion, and really create one entity for the future,” said Rafael Sciullo, president and CEO of Empath Health. “If we look across the continuum of care services and organizations under the integrated delivery system that Stratum and Empath will be bringing together, we will be serving approximately 50,000 lives on an annual basis.” 

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The scope of services for the merged enterprise will include hospice, and private duty and skilled home health care, physician services, palliative care, primary care, a PACE program and an HIV medical clinic. The combined company will include approximately 2,000 employees and as many as 4,000 volunteers.

The organizations have not yet announced a name for their new enterprise. For the time being the two companies and affiliated providers will continue to operate under their current brands.

Empath Health’s Sciullo will be the first CEO of the combined company, with Stratum President and CEO Jonathan Fleece as president of the new entity. Fleece is expected to succeed Sciullo as CEO after he retires in 2023, post-integration.

An initial priority for the merged company is the development of an internal Mission Services Organization (MSO) that includes integrated back-office functions involving the organizations’ innovation, technology, finance, human resources, quality and compliance teams. The MSO is expected to launch later this year.

“What has evolved in the area of hospice care is that we legacy hospice organizations really decided number of years ago at Empath and Stratum that we could be so much more than just a hospice and provide a full integrated and holistic approach to care,” Fleece told Hospice News. “Patients, families, and loved ones are navigating that that final corridor of life which certainly can precede hospice eligibility under the Medicare program. By putting these continuum of care companies together, it truly allows us to help patients, families and loved ones navigate the entire end-of-life care journey. It gives our system this really good bit of depth and breadth of skills and experience and services.”

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