Empath Health expands with De Novo, a day care center for elderly veterans

Florida-based nonprofit Empath Health has expanded with a new location for multiple services as well as a senior day care center geared toward the needs of veterans.

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

“It is an honor and a privilege to provide our end-to-end care for the lives of Hillsborough County residents,” Raphael J. said in a statement. Sciullo, CEO of Empath Health. “Our goal continues to be to look for ways Empath can be of service to others by 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 of offering a full continuum of care in home and community settings.

In 2018, Florida ranked third nationally for hospice use at a rate of 57.9 percent among Medicare decedents, according to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. Only Utah and Arizona scored higher at 59.4% and 59.2%, respectively.

According to Empath President Jonathan Fleiss, the new location is well positioned to expand access to underserved populations.

“Our Brandon [Florida] location allows us to reach those populations not traditionally served by hospice, particularly the migrant community and more rural parts of the county,” Fleiss said. “Empath Health wants to ensure that everyone who needs our specialized care has access to it when 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 accepting other patients as well.

Veterans have a range of care needs that differ from those of the general population. Psychological problems among veterans can be particularly complex. Patients with dementia, for example, may relive old traumas or painful memories related to combat or service conditions.

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

“The veterans of our community deserve to be cared for and honored appropriately for their service to our country. The Auer Szabo Empath Day Center for Seniors will provide that much-needed support system for them and their caregivers,” said Raphael J. Sciullo, CEO of Empath Health.

Nearly 85% of veterans in the United States receive health care services, including hospice, outside the US Veterans 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 individual or group support; among other services.

“The establishment of this new senior day care center exemplifies Empath’s mission to provide complete life care for all,” Fleiss said in a news release. “The unique challenges veterans can face can leave them feeling alone and their caregivers burned out. The center will create a dedicated community and support system for them.”

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