Jackson Health System CEO Carlos Migoya, Leon Medical Centers CEO Albert Maury, VITAS CEO Nick Westfall, South Miami Hospital CEO Lincoln Mendez, Leon Medical Center Chief Medical Officer Rafael Mas, VITAS Vice President of Operations Betty Bel and Jackson Memorial Hospital CEO David Zambrana.

VITAS Healthcare, the nation’s leading provider of end-of-life care, celebrated its 40th anniversary, the company’s crucial role in the South Florida health care industry and its influence on the national hospice movement, with a ceremony at the Miami Dade College (MDC) Freedom Tower on Tuesday, Jan. 15. The National Historic Landmark was illuminated purple to honor VITAS’ four decades of advancing the American hospice movement and compassionate care for hospice patients and families. 
Founded in 1978 by two members of MDC’s faculty,  VITAS Healthcare, was one of the nation’s first hospice programs. VITAS helped pass Florida’s first-in-the-nation hospice licensure law, which immediately became a model for other states and the federal government. In the more than 40 years since caring for its first patient, VITAS has continued to lead the American hospice movement, committed to finding and closing gaps in end-of-life care. VITAS ensures that terminally ill patients of all lifestyles and their families have access to compassionate and high-quality hospice care. 
Since its founding in Miami, VITAS has cared for more than 1.6 million patients. Today, VITAS employs over 12,000 professionals who care for approximately 18,000 patients daily, in 14 states and the District of Columbia. 
MDC’s President, Dr. Eduardo J. Padrón, and VITAS Healthcare CEO, Nick Westfall, were in attendance for the ceremony and provided brief remarks at the illumination ceremony. 
“VITAS is a lot like the Freedom Tower,” noted Westfall before lighting the tower. “An iconic community landmark that serves as a symbol of passage and hope. In the 1960s and ‘70s, the tower was a beacon of welcome for nearly half a million refugees who came to the United States through South Florida on their own journeys, in search of a better quality of life. It is appropriate that we stand tonight in this building, celebrating the past 40 years of VITAS’ commitment to our patients, families and employees, and looking forward to the journey that lies ahead.”
“Last night’s ceremony was very much about hope, our collective hope that we continue improving the quality of life of our residents.  At MDC, we recognize the impact VITAS has had in the lives of countless individuals and families who have benefited from the care and compassion of hospice care during life’s final moments,” added Dr. Padrón.