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Bluegrass Care Navigator Pioneer Dr. Todd Cote

Eleven years ago, Todd Cote was privileged to have several opportunities for new employment and a new move, including one job offer in Florida. In the end, he chose to join then Hospice of the Bluegrass as its Chief Medical Officer because of the organization’s leadership, reputation and innovation in hospice and palliative care. He and his wife also felt that Lexington would be a great place to raise their two children.

One story sticks in Dr. Cote’s mind about that time. He remembers arriving in Lexington with his family two days before his August 13, 2007, start date. It was getting late and everyone was tired and hungry so he went to Kroger to get some groceries. The cashier asked him how he was, and he explained that he had just arrived to start a new job. Her eyes lit up when he told her where he would be working and she said how great the agency was, how they help the community so much and how lucky he was to be going to work there. The interaction started his journey on a great note.
In his role as Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Cote divides his time between clinical work and administrative work, where he manages Bluegrass Care Navigators’ Department of Medicine team, which includes 13 physicians and 12 nurse practitioners. He also oversees Bluegrass Palliative Care, a service that cares for more than 3,000 patients annually. His clinical work includes time as a palliative consultant and with the hospice interdisciplinary team. If this isn’t enough, Dr. Cote also maintains an assistant professor position in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Kentucky, the institution where he has led the development and startup of the hospital’s Palliative Care Consult Service, worked to develop hospice inpatient services and a palliative care consult service for the UK Children’s Hospital.

Asked how the hospice field has changed over the years, Dr. Cote replied, “The hospice field has always been changing - growing and learning from itself and others since it began. We have learned to be better clinicians, better leaders and better participants in the lives of our patients and families.”

“Hospice care started as an alternative healthcare movement hidden away from the public eye, but needs to be part of the continuum of care in all of healthcare and the community,” Dr. Cote continued. “It’s gratifying to see how [we are] truly part of that continuum in all the communities we serve.”

Hailing from Fresno, Calif., Dr. Cote is a graduate of the University of San Diego and the St. Louis University School of Medicine. In 1989, he began his career in family medicine as a solo practitioner in Bakersfield, Calif., and was awarded the California Family Physician of the Year in 1995. Subsequent jobs in California, Arizona and Connecticut had him working in increasing roles of responsibility in hospice and palliative care. He is the author of more than a dozen articles and has been invited to present at more than 100 conferences and other events.

In his spare time, Dr. Cote enjoys painting, cycling and collecting art, particularly modern Irish art.

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