Suncoast Hospice of Hillsborough Unveils New Inpatient Unit

Florida-based Suncoast Hospice of Hillsborough, an Empath Health affiliate, has opened a new inpatient unit within Tampa’s St. Joseph’s Hospital.

St. Joseph’s is part of the BayCare Health System and has been one of the hospice’s largest referral partners when it comes to general inpatient care, according to Kerry Hoerner, Empath Health’s Chief Hospice Officer. The hospital selected Suncoast following a request-for-proposal process involving several potential hospice partners.

“We have the relationship certainly through all the years of working together and the 1,000s of patients we have both served through our health systems,” Hoerner told Hospice News. “And once we were able to operate as a hospice in Hillsborough, we started having conversations about where our inpatient unit could be placed to geographically serve that area.”


The Hillsborough location of Suncoast Hospice opened in December 2021. The legacy branch is in Pinellas County, Florida.

Suncoast is a member of the nonprofit Empath Health, which provides hospice, home health care, primary care, palliative care, PACE, AIDS and sexual wellness care, and adult day services to a combined total of more than 23,000 individuals. The organization is the parent company of 17 affiliates and two philanthropic foundations.

The unit at St. Joseph’s Hospital includes 10 private patient rooms furnished in a home-like manner, recliners for visitors, a family room and 24/7 access for visitors, Suncoast indicated in a press release.


The hospital and the hospice shared the costs of renovating the space, Hoerner said.

The unit is open to hospice patients in need of general inpatient care or respite care. This often includes inpatients who need a higher level of care between hospital discharge and returning home.

“We’ve been in operations for less than a year-and-a-half in Hillsborough and have already identified that there is a need for this level of care,” Hoerner said. “Empath Health was very committed to making sure that we were able to provide this service to the residents of Hillsborough County.”