Our Executive Team
Laura Patel, MD, HMDC, FAAHPM
Chief Executive Officer
Chief Medical Officer
After serving as Chief Medical Officer of Transitions LifeCare for nine years, in 2022 Laura Patel was unanimously elected to her role as CEO. With her hands-on approach to leadership, Dr. Patel furthers the mission, vision and strategic direction of the organization during a time of unprecedented challenge in the healthcare economy. Dr. Patel is a thought leader and collaborator at the state and national level, working to advance models of care for those with serious illness.
To address the needs of our most vulnerable population, she helped launch Transitions Kids—a home-based pediatric hospice and palliative care program. Embracing the mission and elevating wrap-around care, Dr. Patel created a partnership for the hospital-based palliative care program and formed Transitions Medical Partners—a primary care medical practice. In 2015, Dr. Patel’s educational outreach initiative resulted in a partnership between Transitions LifeCare and the University of North Carolina creating an innovative ACGME-accredited fellowship in hospice and palliative medicine. Dr. Patel values diversity, equity, and inclusion and works to improve hospice and palliative care access to all North Carolinians.
Born and raised in the Midwest, she earned her medical degree from the University of Minnesota and completed her residency in internal medicine followed by a fellowship in geriatric medicine at the University of North Carolina. Before she found her way back to the Triangle, she experienced a universal healthcare system and hospice in New Zealand, and worked for several years in a community nonprofit geriatric, hospice, and palliative care group in Baltimore.
Dr. Patel is board certified in Internal Medicine, Geriatric Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine, and is a certified Hospice Medical Director. In 2017, she was named AHHC’s “Physician of the Year” and one of TBJ’s “40 Under 40.” In 2019, she was named as one of AAHPM’s Emerging Leaders. Dr. Patel is a fellow of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. She served on the North Carolina IOM Taskforce on Serious Illness and is a co-chair for the clinical practice workgroup of the NC Serious Illness Coalition.
Christine H. Casey, MSG, MBA, CFRE
Vice President of Philanthropy
Christine earned a master’s degree in Gerontology from UNC Greensboro, MBA from Averett University, bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Mary Washington, the Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) credential, and Duke University’s Nonprofit Management Program certificate. She has been an active member and past board member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Triangle Chapter since 2009 and has been a workshop speaker and trainer at AFP conferences and workshops as well as a mentor to other fundraising professionals.
Christine joined Transitions LifeCare in 2016 to help implement the new 1979 Circle and Grateful Family campaigns, implement and manage the donor database, and to build a comprehensive Annual Giving program. Promoted to Vice President of Philanthropy in 2021, Christine is responsible for overseeing a comprehensive philanthropy strategy to provide funding for the Indigent Care, Bereavement, and Transitions Kids programs, in addition to building the organization’s endowment. Prior to joining Transitions LifeCare, Christine worked for a variety of nonprofit organizations, both local and national, including American University’s Washington College of Law, Washington National Cathedral, American Red Cross, and Make-A-Wish Eastern NC Chapter.
Vice President of Integration
William obtained his master’s degrees in Business Administration and Health Services Administration and a bachelor’s degree in Health Sciences from The University of Alabama at Birmingham. Following completion of an administrative fellowship, William joined a large academic palliative medicine program as manager, and finally director, for eight years before joining Transitions LifeCare in 2022.
In his role as Vice President of Integration, William partners with the CEO and executive team to implement new programs and services as well as innovate existing programs and services in alignment with strategic priorities, best practices, and healthcare trends. Additionally, he provides operational support across Transitions LifeCare by providing leadership and direction to leadership and individual contributors involved in implementing and managing special projects and programs with strategic and tactical objectives.
Christine Khandelwal, DO
Vice President of Education and Strategic Outreach
Dr. Khandelwal developed the Transitions LifeCare Inpatient Palliative Care Service at WakeMed Health and Hospitals. She served as the Inpatient Medical Director of that team until transitioning to her current role as vice president of education and strategic outreach. Dr. Khandelwal’s philosophy in education has always been guided by the premise that interprofessional medical education training in a community-based setting provides a realistic view of collaboration among community partners.
With her experience and expertise, Dr. Khandelwal has provided formal lectures for interdisciplinary audiences at the local level (Wake AHEC conferences), at the state level (NC Pharmaceutical Association conference), and at the national level as a keynote speaker (Social Work HPN). Dr. Khandelwal has been awarded the Wake AHEC Teaching Award in 2018, was recognized as a TBJ Health Care Hero in 2019, and received a Campbell Primary Care Champions Award in 2021 to support her role in improving care to people within our communities.
Dr. Khandelwal serves in several leadership roles to represent the field of hospice and palliative medicine: NHPCO Palliative Care Council, NC Professionals Health Program, and the NC Medical Board, where as the first hospice and palliative medicine physician in the state to serve on the Board, she is participating in decisions on important issues such as fair access to restricted medications and improved access to care across the state.
Mary Lucas, MSHCM
Vice President of Marketing and Business Development
Mary earned a master’s degree in health care management from Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor’s degree in marketing from The University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Following progressive roles in sales, marketing, and health care public policy, Mary joined Transitions LifeCare in 2019 initially serving as the director of business development. Promoted to vice president of marketing in 2021, she is responsible for developing, monitoring, and communicating business strategy and strategic priorities. She is also responsible for pursuing new partnerships, contracts, and business opportunities within health systems and community organizations. Mary oversees marketing, sales, consumer education, corporate branding, and communication strategies to drive awareness of and admission in Transitions LifeCare’s various services and programs. She also is co-host of WPTF Aging Matters weekly radio show and podcast. In addition to her work at Transitions LifeCare, Mary serves on the Next Generation Leadership Advisory Council for the NHPCO as well as the AHHC Hospice Leaders Council.
A Raleigh native, Mary spends time with her two rescue dogs, Vespa and Knots, and a regular rotation of foster dogs. She also serves as a member for the City of Raleigh Community Engagement Board and the Habitat for Humanity Homeowner Services Committee.
Nicole Martin, MBA, BSN, RN, CHPN, CHC
Vice President of Organizational Excellence
Nicole earned her MBA and BSN at Western Governors University and is certified in hospice & palliative care and healthcare compliance. Her background includes more than 24 years experience in clinical management, education, risk assessment, and compliance. Nicole, who joined Transitions LifeCare in 2018, is responsible for the overall management of corporate compliance and performance improvement. She also ensures the organization continues to meet standards and maintain Medicare, Medicaid, state, and federal requirements.
Since 2019, Nicole has served on the board of directors for the Hospice and Palliative Credentialing Center, whose mission is to advance expert care in serious illness. She became the president in 2022 and will chair the governance committee in 2023. Nicole also launched Transitions LifeCare’s family advisory council in 2019 which provides families’ perspectives on policy change, development, and new programs.
Prior to joining Transitions LifeCare, Nicole served as director of quality & compliance at Samaritan Healthcare & Hospice in Marlton, NJ where she instituted a company-wide risk assessment program to identify and mitigate risk for a nonprofit hospice and participated in the National Partnership Hospice Innovations (NPHI) national work group.
Jackie Ring, PhD, RN, FACHE, NEA-BC
Chief Clinical Officer
As Chief Clinical Officer, Jackie is responsible for oversight of all clinical services. Prior to joining Transitions LifeCare in 2017 as Vice President of Clinical Services, Chief Innovation Officer, Jackie served as President/CNO of Highlands-Cashiers Hospital and Chief Operating Officer/Chief Nursing Officer at Johnston UNC Health Care, where she was responsible for overseeing design and implementation of a new hospital in Clayton. Jackie has a passion for excellence in patient-centered care, and has served as a member, vice chair, and chair of the North Carolina Board of Nursing, and as a member of the AHHC Board of Directors.
Jackie is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte where she received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree and was inducted into the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International. She continued studies at Pfeiffer University where she earned a MBA/MHA degree, and at UNC Chapel Hill where she earned a Ph.D. in nursing with a nursing systems focus. Jackie is a Fellow in the American College of Health Care Executives and board certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a Nurse Executive, Advanced. She is originally from Charlotte, NC and enjoys calling the Cary/Raleigh area home.
Steve Shelton, CPA, MBA, CHFP
Chief Financial Officer
Steve joined Transitions LifeCare in May 2022. He is responsible for finance, revenue cycles, facilities, and IT. Steve has worked in healthcare for more than 13 years and prior to that, nine years in public accounting.
Steve graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in psychology from the University of South Carolina and then received his MBA from Elon University. He is a certified public accountant licensed in North Carolina. In addition, he is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the North Carolina Association of Certified Public Accountants, and the Healthcare Financial Management Association.
Melissa Short, MBA, SPHR
Vice President of Human Resources
Melissa Short leads Transitions LifeCare’s talent strategy efforts. A native of Roanoke, Virginia, Melissa first came to North Carolina to attend North Carolina State University where she graduated cum laude in political science. She later continued her education at East Carolina University where she obtained her Master’s degree in business administration. Melissa has spent the bulk of her career in the for-profit healthcare sector but also has direct experience with non-profit and pharmaceutical organizations. She holds a senior-level certification from the HR Certification Institute®, is a board member of the Capital Area Workforce Development Board, and is an active member of the Triangle Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity Alliance. As an experienced professional, her passion is helping organizations become an excellent place to work.