Expert Profiles

At Chapters Health System, patients and their families are treated by an expert team who have the most advanced understanding of hospice, palliative and home health care.  Every employee—from the chief executive officer to medical director to team nurse to our administrative staff—is committed to providing the utmost in compassion, respect and care for all of our patients. Learn more by reading our expert profiles.

Kathy Fernandez, BSN, MHA
President/Chief Executive Officer

Kathy L. Fernandez, BSN, MHA

As the president/CEO of Chapters Health System, one succinct goal drives Kathy Fernandez – delivering compassionate and high-quality healthcare. Kathy started her career as an oncology nurse, but in time found herself drawn to the hospice mission after she developed and implemented an inpatient hospice unit at a local hospital.

In 1993, she joined Hospice of Hillsborough (as Chapters Health System was then known) and was named president and chief executive officer in 1998. 
Under Kathy’s visionary leadership, the company has experienced a significant increase in the number of patients served and expanded programs
to address the needs related to aging, complex medical conditions and 
end-of-life concerns.  Kathy has also played a key role in the company’s major accomplishments overseeing:

  • The organization’s first The Joint Commission accreditation survey and subsequent reaccreditations.
  • Expansion of the company’s hospice services into Polk, Highlands and Hardee counties.
  • Acquisition of Good Shepherd Hospice, and thereby maintaining its non-profit status.
  • Construction of three freestanding hospice houses.
  • Reorganization of the corporate structure to better serve patients, families and employees.
  • Addition of a hospital-based palliative care consultation service.
  • Affiliation with HPH Hospice and HPH Home Health, which expanded Chapters Health System’s services into Citrus, Hernando and Pasco counties.
  • And the transformation from a hospice and palliative care organization to a multi-level health system addressing issues related to aging, complex medical conditions and end-of-life concerns.

Kathy earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Tampa and a Master of Science in Health Administration from the University of St. Francis in Joliet, Illinois.

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Ronald Schonwetter, MD
Chief Medical Officer

Ronald S. Schonwetter, MD, FACP, AGSF, FAAHPM

As the chief medical officer at Chapters Health System, Ronald S. Schonwetter, MD, FACP, AGSF, FAAHPM, is dedicated to accessible care for patients as they face the challenges of advancing age or illness. Dr. Schonwetter joined Hospice of Hillsborough (as Chapters Health System was known) in 1989 and was named executive vice president and chief medical officer in 2005.

Dr. Schonwetter is certified in Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine by the American Board of Internal Medicine. He also previously earned certification as a medical director, a hospice administrator and in geriatric medicine.

Dr. Schonwetter earned his medical degree from the University of South Florida (USF) College of Medicine. He completed his internship and residency programs in the area of Internal Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. In addition, Dr. Schonwetter completed a two-year fellowship in geriatric medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and The Veterans Administration Medical Center in Houston. He previously served as professor and division director of Geriatric Medicine at the USF College of Medicine as well as director of the Geriatric Medicine Fellowship Program.

Dr. Schonwetter has held various positions with the American Board of Hospice and Palliative Medicine including serving as the board’s chair, and the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, serving as the academy’s president in 2006.

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Mary Alfano-Torres, MD
Medical Director, Chapters Health Palliative Care

Mary Alfano-Torres, MD

Mary Alfano-Torres, MD, has dedicated her career to delivering quality palliative care services to patients facing complex and complicated medical conditions. As medical director at Chapters Health Palliative Care, Dr. Alfano-Torres provides palliative care consultations at area hospitals, meeting with chronically ill patients and their loved ones. She discusses the illnesses they are facing, offering guidance and helping them put in place realistic plans of care as they move forward.

Dr. Alfano-Torres joined Chapters Health Palliative Care in 2013. Previously, she was the Palliative Care Department medical director at Sacred Heart Health System in Pensacola, Florida. Dr. Alfano-Torres also held positions with the Center for Hospice and Palliative Care in Buffalo, New York, including attending physician and director of the Palliative Care Consultation Service and medical director of the Hospice Inpatient Unit.

Dr. Alfano-Torres has also dedicated time to educating future physicians. She held faculty positions at the State University of New York at Buffalo and Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan Dr. Alfano-Torres earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York; her medical degree from the State University of New York at Upstate College of Medicine in Syracuse; and completed her residency at Michigan State University in Lansing. She is also a fellow in family practice; a diplomat of the American Board of Hospice and Palliative Medicine; and a diplomat of the American Board of Family Practice.

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Stewart Stein, MD
Associate Vice President, Medical Services

Stewart W. Stein, MD

As the associate vice president of medical services at Chapters Health System, Stewart W. Stein, MD, bring more than two decades of experience as a physician. His extensive background in end-of-life care and a commitment to the delivery of exceptional hospice services are of great benefit to the patients and families. Dr. Stein joined the organization in January 2011.

He previously served as chief medical officer and medical director at Nathan Adelson Hospicin Las Vegas, Nevada. Dr. Stein also provided geriatric, rehabilitative and hospice care for patients in home settings and skilled-nursing facilities as a staff physician with the Kaiser Permanente Department of Continuing Care in San Diego, California.

Dr. Stein is board certified by the American Board of Hospice and Palliative Medicine and was a scholar in residence at the Center for Palliative Studies with San Diego Hospice.

Dr. Stein is a Florida native who was born in Jacksonville and attended the University of Florida, where he earned his Bachelor of Science and medical degrees. He completed his medical internship and residency programs at the University of California at San Diego’s University Hospital.

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