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Physician Spotlight: Kurt Merkelz

Kurt Merkelz, M.D., Assumes New Leadership Role

We are proud to welcome Kurt Merkelz, M.D., previously medical director of the Compassus program in Houston, Texas, to the organization’s executive team as Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer.

At Compassus, our medical directors and care teams across the country demonstrate our commitment to delivering quality patient outcomes and increasing access to end-of-life care.

Dr. Merkelz has modeled this devotion to patients and commitment to excellence since his start with the organization in 2010. He will draw on the invaluable experience and knowledge he developed in the field to lead our quality and clinical initiatives. He will also chair the Medical Director Advisory Council, of which he was an original member and has served for the past six years.

Dr. Merkelz received his medical degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center and completed residencies in family medicine and geriatric medicine at the University of Cincinnati. Following his residency at the University of Cincinnati, he became assistant director of the international health program. His work has involved him in medical relief with indigenous populations across the world.

“Although my job was in coordinating medical brigades in developing countries, much of the work and preparation was personal time, and that volunteerism was what made all the experiences so rewarding, as well as rejuvenating,” he said.

Throughout his career, Dr. Merkelz has focused on caring for older adults. Before joining Compassus, he served as the director of the Geriatric Medicine Clinic at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio.

“For me, the progression of my career towards end-of-life care has always been centered on a common thread of helping care for the underserved,” he said. “From my international work, to caring for the elderly and now focusing solely on end of life, I believe each group represents marginalized communities requiring unique resources and care processes.”

His perseverance in raising industry benchmarks for quality hospice care earned him the R. Sean Morrison, M.D., Award for Outstanding Achievement in Hospice Physician Leadership.

“It’s an exciting time in hospice,” Dr. Merkelz said. “While many regulations exist, there is a call for making us all more accountable for the care we deliver.”

In addition to being published in a major journal and having authored chapters in three textbooks, Dr. Merkelz is also triple-board certified in hospice and palliative care medicine, family practice and geriatrics.

Dr. Merkelz has four children and his wife is also dedicated to healthcare, a leader herself in heart transplant care coordination. 

Dr. Merkelz is one of many dedicated, highly qualified doctors that help Compassus deliver top care, comfort and support to patients and their families across the country. We are honored to have him join our executive team.

This article originally appeared in Everyday Compassion magazine. To browse full issues of the magazine, click here.