TAMPA – As a youngster, Kim Walker spent a lot of time in the hospital.
The new executive director of LifePath Hospice, a not-for-profit organization operating under the umbrella of the Chapters Health System, wasn’t a sickly child. It was because of her father, who suffered from a chronic cardiac condition.
“I grew fascinated with the field of medicine,” she said.
Walker’s childhood captivation was the catalyst behind her earning a bachelor of arts degree in medical sociology from the University of Florida and a master of science degree in hospital and health care administration from the University of Alabama.
She subsequently built a more than 25-year career in health care operations and management, including leadership roles at Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Doctors Hospital in Sarasota and Memorial Hospital in Tampa.
More recently, she served as cancer center administrator and associate vice president of cancer services at Lakeland Regional Medical Center. She says the new position won’t be that much of a change for her.
“While the entity may be different, the operations are basically the same,” Walker said.
What attracted her to LifePath Hospice, she said, was its “excellent” reputation.
“This position provides me the opportunity to be part of that,” said the longtime Tampa resident.
As head of LifePath Hospice’s operations and services, Walker manages a staff of more than 700 that in turn provides care for close to 1,300 patients daily in Hillsborough County.
“I think our system is operating well but we need to continually look at how we can use our resources effectively,” she said.
Walker expressed gratitude for the ease in which she was able to settle into her new surroundings.
“It’s just amazing how I’ve been welcomed. The staff and physicians here are wonderful,” she said.
Chapters Health System COO Marcia “Toni” Norman is among those who championed having Walker on board.
“She demonstrates on a daily basis an extraordinary passion for quality end-of-life care,” Norman said. “Her experience in acute-care settings will help support LifePath Hospice’s role in the overall continuum of care.”
Walker replaces Roxanne Riley, who resigned in November.
In her spare time Walker, a fervent Florida Gators fan, enjoys growing orchids and gardening of all kinds.
“I love being outdoors,” she said.
Joyce McKenzie can be reached at [email protected]