Samira K. Beckwith, ACSW, LCSW, FACHE, has more than 30 years' experience in professional health care and social services. She has served as President and CEO of Hope Healthcare Services, based in Fort Myers, Florida, since 1991. When she joined Hope, the agency was caring for a small number of hospice patients in the immediate Fort Myers area. Under her leadership, Hope has created an array of services for the frail elderly and children and today serves more than 2,200 people and their families in a 10,000 square-mile area throughout southwest and mid-Florida.
Her career in social work as a "social architect" began unofficially when she was a student at The Ohio State University, where she earned her BA in Sociology and Master's in Social Work. At that time, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease. Spending countless hours and days in the hospital, clinics and doctor's offices with fellow cancer patients, she realized that conventional medical practice was not advanced in regard to pain control, symptom management-and empathy. That was when she made a promise to herself to use her experience to help others live a better life, even during serious illness or in the final chapter. That promise became the foundation of her career.
Since then, Samira Beckwith has become a leader in improving and advancing health care on the local, state and national levels. She has broadened the continuum of health care, enabling adults to live comfortably and with dignity through old age and into the final chapter of life. She has given hope to children through programs to help them cope with illness, grief and dying. Adults with special needs can look forward to a warm meal delivered to their home everyday. Frail elderly people, home alone, can count on special caregivers to deliver medicine, monitor their vital signs, and even provide light housecleaning. She has created a new model of health care that has garnered the attention of health care agencies, policy makers and associations around the country.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush described her as "a visionary who provides leadership on a local and national level - passionate about ensuring the highest quality of service" in her role as President of Hope. With that in mind, he appointed Samira to the state's Long-Term Care Policy and focused on providing the most cost-effective, community-based services for Florida's elderly. Ms. Beckwith is a frequent participant in national health policy forums and has provided expert testimony before government bodies including the US House Judiciary Committee. Ms. Beckwith is serving for a third time on the Board of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, focusing on public policy, education, diversity, cultural issues and better access to care.
In developing new and innovative programs of care, she has applied two guiding principles:
These principles led Ms. Beckwith to introduce new programs of care, in addition to the flagship hospice program, to meet diverse community needs.
- Hope Select Care - A program of All-Inclusive care for the Elderly (PACE), a Medicare/Medicaid program enabling ages 55 and older to maintain independent living by bringing comprehensive care and services to the home.
- Hope Connections - Home-based independent living alternatives for ages 60 and older, many of whom are in rural areas.
- Hope Choices - A long-term, at-home care program provided by Medicaid and the Florida Department of Elder Affairs for ages 65 and older, whose goal is to remain at home.
- Hope Kids Care - Help for children coping with grief or a serious illness-their own or a loved one's.
- Hope Comfort Care - Symptom management and counseling for people of all ages with a serious illness.
- Hope Healing Hearts - Counseling and support for those who have experienced the loss of a loved one.
- Hope Parkinson Program - Services and activities for people living with Parkinson disease and their caregivers, to help them experience a fullness of life.
Ms. Beckwith has received national and international recognition for her work and her innovations. Most recently she was received the following honors:
- Knee/Wittman Lifetime Achievement Award in Health and Mental Health Practice (2009) from the NASW Foundation;
- Stevie Awards for Women in Business-International Lifetime Achievement Award, 2009;
- Alumni Medalist Award - The Ohio State University Alumni Association, 2009;
- The National Association of Social Workers Social Work Pioneer®, 2007;
- The Ohio State University College of Social Work Hall of Fame, 2007; and,
- APEX Award: Tribute to an Outstanding Woman in Business, Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce, 2007.
Regardless of the scale of her work and her accomplishments, Samira Beckwith maintains her focus as a Social Worker, committed to meeting the needs of each individual.