Empath Health Expands With De Novo, Veterans’ Adult Day Center

The Florida-based nonprofit Empath Health has expanded with a new multi-service location as well as an adult day center oriented around the needs of veterans.

The de novo, located in Florida’s Hillsborough County, initially will house a branch of the Empath affiliate Suncoast Hospice. The organization also plans to add home health, medical services, grief care, personal care, and its Empath Partners in Care (EPIC) services, designed to care for HIV/AIDS patients.

“Bringing our full life care to the residents of Hillsborough County is an honor and a privilege,” Rafael J. Sciullo, CEO of Empath Health, said in a statement. “It continues to be our goal to look for ways Empath can be of service to others, meeting them where they are.”


In addition to Suncoast, Empath currently operates Tidewell Hospice, also in Florida. Empath Health merged with Stratum Health System in 2020 with the intention to offer a full continuum of home- and community-based care.

In 2018 Florida ranked third highest nationwide for hospice utilization at a rate of 57.9% among Medicare decedents, according to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. Only Utah and Arizona saw higher rates at 59.4% and 59.2%, respectively.

The new location is well-positioned to expand access for underserved populations, according to Empath President Jonathan Fleece.


“Our Brandon [Florida] location allows us to reach those populations traditionally underserved by hospice, especially the migrant community and the more rural parts of the county,” Fleece said. “Empath Health wants to ensure everyone who needs our specialized care has access to it whenever they need it.”

The organization’s second new facility, the Auer Szabo Empath Adult Day Center, is located in St. Petersburg. The center will offer services designed for veterans while also accepting other patients.

Veterans have a number of care needs that differ from those of the general population. Psychological issues among veterans can be particularly complex. Dementia patients for instance can re-experience old traumas or painful memories related to combat or service-related conditions.

Roughly 20.3 million military veterans live in the United States, according to the National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics. More than 80,000 veterans dwell in Florida’s Pinellas County, where the center is located, according to data provided by Empath.

“Our community’s veterans deserve to be cared for and properly honored for their service to our country. The Auer Szabo Empath Adult Day Center will provide this much-needed support system for them and their caregivers,” said Rafael J. Sciullo, CEO of Empath Health.

Nearly 85% of veterans in the United States receive health care services, including hospice, outside of the U.S. Veteran’s Administration (VA), and only 4% die in a VA facility.

Empath Health is a Five-Star Partner in the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s We Honor Veterans Program and is a member of the Honor Flight Network

The new center will provide medical care; physical, occupational, and group therapies; meals and snacks; group activities; and one-on-one or group support; among other services. 

“The creation of this new adult day center exemplifies Empath’s mission of providing full life care for all,” Fleece said in a press release. “The unique challenges veterans may face can leave them feeling alone and those who are caring for them burned out. The center will create a specialized community and support system for them.”   

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