VITAS Healthcare Names Four Leaders to Executive Team: Melad, Escueta, Dr. Loftis, Durkin

May 13, 2024

MIAMI, FL – VITAS Healthcare proudly announces the addition of four new leaders to its executive management team, including the promotions of Jennifer Melad, Martin Escueta and Lauren Loftis, MD. The hospice company also welcomes Vicky Durkin as its latest newly hired executive.

As the nation’s leading end-of-life care provider and a globally recognized best-in-class employer, VITAS is dedicated to excellence in leadership and service delivery, ensuring that patients and their families receive the highest quality of care, while employees benefit from an engaging and fulfilling career.

These appointments follow several recent promotions at VITAS for two key operations executives and a new executive vice president role, as well as two senior vice presidents and four vice presidents in Florida.


Overseeing the operations of six VITAS service areas in Southern California, Jennifer Melad ensures the delivery of compassionate care to patients and their families across Orange County, the Inland Empire, Coastal Cities, San Diego, San Gabriel and San Fernando-Ventura/Los Angeles. With more than 25 years of healthcare operations experience, including six years at VITAS, Melad’s proven leadership continues to drive success in providing quality end-of-life care to these communities.

Melad joined the company in 2018 as associate general manager in Irvine, California. She quickly rose through the ranks and led the Orange County team to achieve Program of the Year in 2021, earning Melad a spot on the company’s elite “Circle of Excellence” committee.

She is pursuing a Master of Business Administration from Western Governors University in Salt Lake City, Utah, and earned a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration and management from Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester.


In Northern California, Martin Escueta now leads VITAS service areas across East Bay, San Francisco Bay and Sacramento Valley. With more than a decade of management experience in senior living and healthcare, Escueta’s expertise in multi-site management and business development continues to enhance the VITAS mission to provide comprehensive hospice services to patients in the Northern California region.

Escueta joined VITAS in 2021 as regional director of admissions. In this role, he supported admissions directors and teams across multiple locations as they achieved steady year-over-year growth and provided more patients with access to VITAS services.

He is a licensed vocational nurse and studied business economics at the University of California, Los Angeles.


A family medicine physician specializing in end-of-life care, Dr. Lauren Loftis now serves as the regional medical director for VITAS in Northern Florida and Alabama. In this role, she leads the medical care of hospice patients and their families throughout Citrus County and the Nature Coast, Pensacola, Panama City, Jacksonville, Tallahassee, Mobile-Daphne and Dothan.

Dr. Loftis joined VITAS in 2022 as medical director in Brevard County where she delivered comprehensive pediatric palliative services for children facing serious illness and interfaced with hospitals, skilled nursing facilities and other facilities to consult and develop services for hospice and palliative care.

Dr. Loftis is board certified by the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM) and the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM). She also received the Hospice Medical Director Board Certification (HMDC) and is a fellow with AAHPM.

She completed her medical degree at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, Texas, and holds a bachelor’s degree in biomedical science from Texas A&M University in College Station. In addition to noteworthy awards honoring her dedication to hospice, Dr. Loftis has also contributed to scientific publications, particularly on the topic of childhood cancer survivors.


As a new addition to VITAS, Vicky Durkin brings more than 25 years of brand marketing and leadership experience in content and creative strategy. She oversees all talent and employer brand marketing, digital content strategy and creative development.

Most recently, Durkin served as director of talent marketing and employer branding at ChenMed, one of the leading healthcare providers for seniors in the United States. Her career spans industries including healthcare, media/entertainment and technology. She has worked for Fortune 500 and mid-size organizations as well as The Miami Herald and Sun-Sentinel.

She is an alumna of Florida International University, where she earned a Master of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Science degree in communication, journalism and related programs.

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