Empath Health, Trustbridge Complete Affiliation

Empath Health has completed its affiliation with Trustbridge, making the organization the largest nonprofit post-acute care provider in the state of Florida.

The affiliation includes Trustbridge’s hospice brands, Hospice of Palm Beach County and Hospice by the Sea. Empath offers hospice care through several brands, including Tidewell Hospice, Suncoast Hospice, Empath Hospice, Hospice of Marion County and Suncoast Hospice of Hillsborough.

With the affiliation closed, Empath will now serve 1 in 5 hospice patients in its home state, the company reported. All told, the organization will care for 5,000 patients daily, employ more than 5,000 staff and 3,000 volunteers.


“We certainly have some exciting operational opportunities to elevate all of our organizations through efficiencies and best practices and just high standardization marks that we’re setting ourselves to from an operations perspective,” Empath President and CEO Jonathan Fleece told Hospice News. “Empath is super excited to bring more of our Full Life Care services to the east coast [of Florida]. Home health is high on the priority list, as are our PACE programs.”

Some technology investments are also in store post-affiliation, according to Fleece. Some of those platforms will be coming over from Trustbridge, but the organization will also be implementing new systems under the direction of incoming CIO Bivek Pathak.

On the horizon for Empath Health is the creation of an Institutional Special Needs Medicare Advantage Plan (I-SNP) through a soon-to-be-announced joint venture, Fleece told Hospice News.

Hospice News photo
Empath Health Jonathan Fleece speaks at Hospice News’ 2023 Elevate Conference.

Empath Health, in its current form, emerged in 2020 from a merger with Stratum Health, where Fleece was previously CEO. The combined organization later unified their businesses under the Empath Health brand. For now, however, the Trustbridge legacy brands will remain in place.

The company’s legacy business lines include 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 20 affiliates and four philanthropic foundations.

Discussions of a potential affiliation began in late 2022, Fleece previously told Hospice News. The organizations had a prior connection through the Florida Hospice and Palliative Care Association, as well as a joint venture with several other providers, the Responsive Care Solutions Accountable Care Organization (ACO).

As those conversations progressed, leaders from both operators began to recognize some important symmetries between their organizations’ cultures. For Trustbridge, the affiliation also represents an opportunity to build out their range of services and create some cost synergies.

Trustbridge provides comprehensive care that addresses the needs of patients at any stage of their illness with services including palliative care, hospice care, grief support services, pharmacy and durable medical equipment.

“Trustbridge is excited to join with Empath Health, combining our expertise and resources to enhance the quality of care for patients and families throughout Florida,” Tarrah Lowry, interim president of Trustbridge and now COO of Empath Health, said in a statement.

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