Empath Health’s New Chief Medical Executives; HopeWest CEO Retires

Empath Health appoints chief medical executives

Florida-based Empath Health recently appointed two new chief medical executives. Dr. Carol Li serves as its chief mission medical administrative officer, and Dr. Neville Sarkari as its chief mission medical affairs officer.

In these roles, both will be crucial to the company’s clinical staff retention capabilities, according to Empath Health President Jonathan Fleece.

“These senior clinical leaders will focus on the specialized medical care we provide and retaining the top talent,” Fleece said in a company announcement.


Empath Health is the parent company of Tidewell Hospice and Suncoast Hospice, and offers a range of other senior care services. The company provides hospice, home health, palliative and personal care to more than 12,000 patients daily across the Tampa Bay and Southwest Florida areas.

In 2020 the company merged with Stratum Health, and earlier this year received a green light to expand services across three additional counties in the central region of the Sunshine State.

Having ample trained staff will be key to providing quality care in these regions.


“We pride ourselves on the expert medical care we provide to our patients,” said Empath Health CEO Rafael Sciullo. “Dr. Li and Dr. Sarkari will help ensure we continue, but also work to increase this excellence while continuing to make Empath Health a premier employment destination for physicians.”

Li provides direction, guidance and oversight to clinical staff, including those at Suncoast Hospice and Tidewell Hospice. She previously served as medical director at Suncoast Hospice. In the new position, Li will be charged with ensuring high-quality care, service and experiences for patients and their families.

Sarkari was most recently the executive vice president and chief medical officer of Tidwell Health, a member of Empath Health.

Prior to that, he served as senior vice president of medical services and operations, as well as interim COO at Covenant Hospice in Florida. Sarkari is responsible for establishing a strategic clinical direction that focuses on patient and family satisfaction, as well as creating quality, safe patient experiences.

HopeWest CEO retires

Colorado-based HopeWest President and CEO Christy Whitney Borchard recently announced her retirement. Cassie Mitchell will succeed her in the role, taking the helm this month.

Whitney Borchard founded HopeWest in 1993 as a nonprofit organization, serving just 83 patients and families in its first year. The hospice’s 424 employees and roughly 1,200 volunteers now provide hospice and palliative care to more than 2,500 patients across five counties in western Colorado.

Whitney Borchard considered retirement previously, but held off as the pandemic became “quite wearing,” she told local news.

As with many provider experiences during COVID, the pandemic took a heavy toll on staff and operations. During the outbreak’s height, the hospice struggled to obtain ample personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning supplies during widespread shortages and price inflations, Whitney Borchard told Hospice News.

As pandemic pressures seem to ease, the time is right to pass the torch to Mitchell, according to Whitney Borchard.

“Cassie is people- and community-centered, finding joy and fulfillment in service to others,” Whitney Borchard told local news. “She deeply understands HopeWest exists to serve our community, enrich lives and profoundly change the experience of aging, illness and grief. I am thrilled that such an experienced, servant leader is at the helm.”

Prior to HopeWest, Mitchell served as chief operating officer at Kentucky-based Bluegrass Care Navigators. She has worked in health care for 27 years as a certified nursing assistant and registered nurse, and has provided hospice care to thousands of patients and their families during that time.

Jet Health shakes up sales leadership

Jet Health Inc., a Texas-based home health and hospice service provider, recently announced the promotion of two sales leaders.

Misty Wade now serves as vice president of sales-East, primarily overseeing operations in the provider’s home state.

Mark Jacoby steps in as vice president of sales-West, overseeing sales for Jet Health and its subsidiaries.

Both Wade and Jacoby joined Jet Health 2021. Founded in 2016, the company offers skilled nursing care, physical, speech and occupational therapy, medical social services, hospice and personal care services in its home state, as well as through subsidiaries in Colorado, Idaho and New Mexico.

The company most recently expanded its footprint in the Lone Star State with the acquisition of Blessings Hospice for an undisclosed sum.

Jacoby was previously its director of market development and education. Prior to that, he served as vice president of business development for Amedisys (NASDAQ: AMED) and held various other health care leadership roles during the past 25 years.

“My position at Jet Health takes me closer to fulfilling my passion of leading people towards success by instilling confidence in them and helping them build a roadmap to overcome challenges while assisting them in identifying a clear path towards accomplishing their biggest career goals,” said Jacoby in a statement shared with Hospice News. “My biggest challenges and successes lie in helping underperformers elevate their efforts while leading highly productive professionals toward achieving more than they imagined possible. I am enthusiastic about accomplishing these types of successes in my new position with Jet Health.”

Wade was most recently Jet Health’s area vice president of sales and has more than 13 years of sales leadership experience. She was previously regional sales director for Encompass Health (NYSE: EHC), overseeing sales operations and strategic growth initiatives.

“As a seasoned sales leader, I believe in setting examples for others that enable them to perform beyond all expectations,” said Wade in the announcement. “I’m a firm believer that equipping and empowering my team will clearly demonstrate value to our stakeholders and escalate leadership in the marketplace. Developing partnerships through a solutions-based approach is what will drive successful outcomes for our company and the team.”

VNA & Blue Water Hospice names new clinical operations VP, COO

Visiting Nurse Association & Blue Water Hospice has named Jessica Martin-Whitley as its new vice president of clinical operations and chief operating office.

Established in 1952, the Michigan-based nonprofit provides a continuum of care across four counties in the state. Since its founding, the organization has expanded service lines to include hospice, home health, special care services such as private duty, telehealth and palliative care.

Most recently, it began renovation work on its Blue Water Hospice Home. Located in Marysville, Michigan, the facility offers 24/7 inpatient hospice care. Renovations included electrical updates and new flooring, patient beds, televisions, restrooms.

Martin-Whitley has been the organization’s director of hospice since 2018. Her leadership has helped VNA & Blue Water Hospice to improve patient satisfaction scores and national rankings, along with achieving accreditations and completing regulatory surveys, the company told local news.

“We are fortunate to have her on our leadership team,” said Angela DeLaere, president and CEO of VNA and Blue Water Hospice.

New president & CEO takes reins at Trinity Health

Michigan-headquartered Trinity Health recently named Janice Hamilton-Crawford as its new president and chief executive officer of its senior health communities, effective this month. This makes Hamilton-Crawford the first woman of color to head a national division of the organization, the company stated in an announcement.

Hamilton-Crawford will lead more than 40 independent living, assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing and subsidized senior housing communities across the country.

Trinity Health is a large, faith-based nonprofit health care system that employs nearly 26,000 physicians and clinicians providing care across 25 states. The Trinity Health system consists of 88 hospitals, 125 urgent care locations, 131 continuing care locations and a large PACE program, among other health services, including hospice. Its annual operating revenue totals $20.2 billion, donating $1.2 billion of this to local communities.

The organization’s subsidiary Trinity Health at Home recently acquired Iowa-based Above & Beyond Home Health Care & Hospice for an undisclosed sum.

Hamilton-Crawford has been “instrumental in solidifying and building partnerships,” according to the recent announcement. She joined Trinity Health in 2018 as the first president of senior communities in the New England region. She built a regional network of assisted and independent living, skilled nursing and rest home communities in Connecticut, Maine and Massachusetts.

Hamilton-Crawford succeeds Steve Kastner, who announced his retirement last year.

“Jan has keen insight into operational efficiencies and excellence without losing sight of reverence for our residents, religious communities, and colleagues,” said Kastner in the announcement.

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