Hospice and Palliative Medicine


Andres Leone, MD Program Director, Assistant Professor

Andres Leone, MD, a native of Argentina, begain his training in Ecuador studying clinical psychology and then transitioned into medical school. He received his medical degree from the Central University of Ecuador and completed his family medicine residency and geriatrics fellowship training at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine in Columbia. He is currently an assistant professor of internal medicine at USC and is board certified in family medicine and geriatrics, and is the Hospice and Palliative Medicine fellowship program director.

Dr. Leone is a physician committed to the well-being of his patients and an active volunteer within the community. He has been actively involved in medical missions in Puerto Lempira/Honduras and Nigeria, Africa and served as a volunteer resident at the Good Samaritan Clinic and Free Clinic Inc. He currently volunteers at the Good Samaritan Hispanic Clinic. He has done research on pain management in skilled nursing facilities, spirituality and religion and the impact on older Americans, brain functional MRI studies in the elderly and the prevalence of nasal cancer.

Dr. Leone has received research grants through HRSA, Practice Change Leaders,  The Hartford Foundation, Atlantic Philanthropies and the Palmetto Health integrative Cancer committee.  He has published in the field of pain management, ultrasound in medical care, spirituality and medicine. In his spare time, he spends time with his two children and is an avid soccer player.


Benjamin Thompson, MD Assoc. Program Director; Assistant Professor


University of South Carolina School of Medicine

Fellowship, Hospice and Palliative Care

University of South Carolina School of Medicine

Residency, Family Medicine

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine

Medical School/Dental School, Medicine

Board Certifications

Family Medicine

American Board of Family Medicine

Sharon P. Beall, MD, HMDC Faculty, Pediatric Hospice & Palliative Care
Dr. Beall is board-certified in pediatrics and as a hospice medical director. She completed her medical education at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, Georgia, and stayed there to complete her internship and residency in pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia (CHOG). After serving an additional year as chief resident, she continued on faculty providing direct patient care in a private practice model and teaching residents and medical students. As medical technologies advanced and children survived with conditions which were once uniformly fatal, she saw the need arise for an additional level of support for patients (and their families and caregivers) who were living with chronic medical conditions which affected their day-to- day functioning. She began working to meet this need locally and established a pediatric inpatient hospice program at CHOG as well as a pediatric palliative care consultation service which offered inpatient, outpatient, and home pediatric palliative care consultations in the Augusta area and for patients from across the state who received care there.
In addition, Dr. Beall also developed a home pediatric hospice program in conjunction with Affinis Hospice and served as hospice medical director for their program. She was selected by Governor Nathan Deal to serve on the Georgia Palliative Care and Quality of Life Advisory Council. Dr. Beall loves to teach others about her passion for this work and provides education about pediatric palliative care to many provider levels.  She transitioned out of her private practice after 23 years of experience and joined Hands of Hope in January of 2018 as their medical director. She supervises the care for Hands of Hope patients in both the hospice and palliative care service lines.  Both services are home-based and provide comprehensive interdisciplinary care for children with complex medical conditions across the entire state of South Carolina. She loves doing home visits and providing symptom management as well as family and caregiver support. She enjoys being able to share this unique instructional environment with students, residents and fellows who desire further training in pediatric palliative care.
Victor Hirth, MD Clinical Faculty; Professor
Medical Director of Still Hopes Episcopal Retirement Community
Chief Executive Officer of Geriatric Health & Wellness, Ltd. Co.
  • Year of Appointment: 1994
  • Medical School:  University of Washington, Class of 1989
  • Internship and Residency in Internal Medicine at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, 1992
  • Fellowship in Geriatrics University of Washington, 1994
Dr. Hirth was recruited to Palmetto Health/USC School of Medicine in 1994. He was the originator of the Senior Primary Care Practice and co-developed the Geriatric Fellowship training program and the Acute Care for the Elderly unit. Dr. Hirth has obtained several large training and education grants, as well as conducted research  in osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease and fall detection. When he is not working Dr. Hirth is an avid cyclist and enjoys working on cars.
Rev. Jerry Fonte, DMin, BCC Palliative Care Chaplain Instructor
Jerry Fonte, DMin, ThM, BCC
Rev. Jerry Fonte has been staff chaplain at Palmetto Health for eleven years. Previously, he served as a pastor for churches in the Columbia area while he served with Columbia Biblical Seminary in field education and was an associate chaplain at Lexington Medical Center. He studied at Dallas Theological Seminary 1976 to 1980 earning his masters degree in theology (ThM). He completed his doctoral studies (DMin) at Columbia Biblical Seminary while working there part time as a field education instructor. He also completed five units of clinical pastoral education at Palmetto Health and is a board certified chaplain with the Association of Professional Chaplains and is a member of the South Carolina Chaplains Association. His ordination is within the Christian and Missionary Alliance, and this religious body also endorses him as an institutional chaplain. He is currently enrolled in the spiritual direction program at Lutheran Southern Seminary and working toward certification in spiritual direction.
Kyle Gross, NP Faculty, Hospice & Palliative Medicine
Kyle Gross is Palliative Care Nurse Practicioner with experience in Intensive Care Nursing, Critical Care Nursing, Nursing Leadership, Nursing Education, Hospice and Palliative Care, and Primary Care. He holds a Masters of Science focused in Nurse Practitioner from University of Cincinnati and earned his Bachelor Scinece in Nursing from University of South Carolina. 
Karin Jenkins, MD Hospice Medical Director and Co-Chair of the Department of Hospice and Palliative Care
Dr. Jenkins is a graduate of Presbyterian College with a BA in Psychology and a BS in Biology.  She graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine in 2004. She completed her residency in Internal Medicine at Greenville Hospital System University Medical Center in 2007 and was Board Certified in Hospice and Palliative Medicine in 2012.  She has worked as a Hospitalist at Kershaw Health, Dorn VAMC, and Prisma Health Richland.  For the past 9 years she has enjoyed teaching residents and medical students as an Academic Hospitalist.  She has been working with the Hospice and Palliative Care Department for the past 7 years.  She has a special interest in using meditation and positive psychology to help improve her patients’ quality of life.

Dr. Jenkins currently lives in Camden, with her husband, Austin.  She has 3 children.  She is actively involved in their schools and her community as well as her church.  She loves to garden, hike, and ride bicycles in her beautiful town.  
Lauren King, LMSW Social Worker, Palliative Care; Clinical Instructor of Internal Medicine
Lauren was born in Pennsylvania but raised in South Carolina and prefers the warmer weather! She got her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Winthrop University and went on to obtain her Master of Social Work degree from Winthrop as well. After graduation she was accepted into a competitive interprofessional palliative care fellowship at the James J. Peters VA Medical Center in the Bronx, NY. After completing the fellowship, she has maintained a passion for the palliative care field and has been on the Palmetto Health (now Prisma Health–Midlands) palliative care team for over nine years. Additionally, she has a faculty appointment as a clinical instructor of internal medicine through the University of South Carolina School of medicine. She has her advanced hospice and palliative care social work certification and is also a board certified hypnotherapist. She is currently a fellow in the NYU Silver School of Social Work Zelda Foster Studies Leadership Fellowship.  To keep sane, she remains active with boxing classes, running, and cycling; loves to craft, paint, and dabbles with pottery; and watches terrible reality TV shows with her cat Zoey.
Elena Liggett, MSW Social Worker, Palliative Care; Social Work Clinical Instructor Palliative Medicine

Elena Liggett has been with the Palliative Care Team for three years. Originally from Ohio, Elena found her niche in social work while attending The University of South Carolina. Upon graduation and obtaining her license, she began her career at Lexington Medical Center Extended Care as a long-term care social worker. She had a rewarding case load in long term, hospice, and comfort care that spanned almost a decade. She has recently earned her clinical counseling license and has completed certifications in advanced geriatrics in social work, advanced hospice and palliative care in social work and a national certification in hypnotherapy. At home Elena enjoys time with her family and spends much of her time keeping up with her 6-year-old grandson. She is the mother of two grown daughters and has been married to her husband Joe for 36 years.

Ali Miller, FNP Faculty
Ali Miller (Lisa), FNP is a Columbia native and has been a nurse since 2013. She’s a University of South Carolina graduate and decided to further her career becoming a nurse practitioner in 2019. Her nursing experience involves oncology and hospice care which grew her passion to pursue palliative care medicine. She’s married to her husband Travis and they enjoy camping, boating and anything outdoors. 

Palliative medicine is appropriate for any patient with a chronic illness at any point in their diagnosis. Ali takes pride in spending time with her patients and understanding goals related to their care. Together we can have an established plan that involves all care providers the patient sees and ensures symptoms are managed. 
Tamika A. Singleton, MSN Clinical Instructor Palliative Medicine
Tamika A. Singleton, MSN, APRN, FNP-BC
Tamika graduated from Midlands Technical College with a degree in nursing and started her career with Palmetto Health in 2004 on a med-surg unit where she has had two tours. She worked as a registered nurse for 12 years before furthering her education and pursuing her masters degree as a nurse practitioner from Kaplan University. She began her career in 2017 as a nurse practitioner and has been and working in palliative care for the past 1½ years. Tamika has a 4 year old daughter Josie who keeps her on her toes. She enjoys relaxing, being at home, and spending time with her family. 
Robin Welsh, MD Faculty