ASAP and Francis House become EPIC, name new executive director

By : Jeremy Williams
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TAMPA – Empath Health announced Dec. 7 that the HIV service’s providers AIDS Service Association of Pinellas (ASAP) and Francis House in Tampa will merge under the new name Empath Partners in Care, or EPIC.

EPIC will become the largest provider of HIV services in the Tampa Bay area, including case management, counseling and pharmacy services, among other programs from its five locations in the region.

Joy Winheim was named the executive director of the newly formed EPIC, a group under the Empath Health umbrella. Winheim has been the executive director of Francis House since 2007.

With all programs combined, Francis House served anywhere from 800 to 1,000 patients in any given year.  Under the new EPIC group, Winheim and her team will be responsible for more than 10,000 patients within Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties.

“I was so happy when I was given the news,” Winheim says.”I spent the last 11 years pouring myself into Francis House and with the merger; moving forward, I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.”

The move from Francis House director to that of EPIC will be a bit of an adjustment for Winheim.

“We have been joking about this in house a bit, because right now I wear so many different hats,” she says. “I am finance, I am HR, I am marketing and fundraising. I’ve fixed toilets, I mop if I have to or shop for the food pantry. We just wear so many hats because we have always been such a small staff at Francis House.”

Large increases in staff and the amount of patients being served may be intimidating to some, but Winheim isn’t worried for a very specific reason.

“The staff is in place and they know what they’re doing,” Winheim says. “So my strategy is going to be to let them do their job and serve our clients. I’m not one to go in and disrupt something that is working, so I’ll go in and we will look at the programs, evaluate what’s working and what’s not, and figure out how to be more efficient. When we all got together and if we all have the same vision, then we will succeed, because this can’t be just my vision. It has to be everyone’s on the team.”

Along with the staff, Winheim has another weapon in her arsenal: a strong leadership team.

“Sheryl [Hoolsema], David [Franks] and Dave [Konnerth] have worked on the ASAP side for a very long time; combined, they have a lot of years together. It just came together seamlessly,” Winheim says. “Vicky [Fortugno-Oliver], who was at Francis House with me, we have worked so closely together getting Francis House to where it was right before the merge. They are all amazing people and I am so much more confident in how I’m going to be able to run the organization because they are in place.”

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