Our Executive Team
John Thoma is a graduate of Boston University where he received a B. A. degree in Spanish. He continued studies at Tufts University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Non-Profit Institute and Tufts University School of Continuing Education concentrating in Community Economic Development and Non-Profit Management. John joined Hospice of Wake County (now Transitions LifeCare) in 1991 and has served in the capacity of Finance/MIS Manager and Chief Financial Officer. He was appointed Chief Executive Officer in August 2002.
John has been a resident of Raleigh since 1990. In addition to his role as Chief Executive Officer, John serves on the Board of Trustees for the Hospice of Wake County Foundation and is very active in promoting quality end-of-life care at the state and national levels. John served on the Board of the United Way of the Greater Triangle (UWGT) and the NC Association for Home and Hospice Care (AHHC). Nationally, John has served as Secretary of the National Hospice and Palliative Care (NHPCO) Board of Directors and chairs the NHPCO Governance Committee. He has previously chaired the NHPCO Quality and Standards Committee and served on the Membership Committee.
Nicole Martin, MBA, BSN, RN, CHPN, CHC
Vice President of Quality and Compliance, Chief Compliance Officer
Nicole earned her MBA and BSN at Western Governors University and is certified in hospice & palliative care and healthcare compliance. Her background includes 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.
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.
Peter N. McCann, MBA
Vice President of Marketing and Business Development, Chief Strategy Officer
Peter McCann earned a master’s degree from Pennsylvania State University and a bachelor’s degree from St. Bonaventure University. Following progressive roles with financial institutions, health insurance and healthcare entities where he was responsible for managed care and health plan sales and marketing, Peter joined Transitions LifeCare in 2018 where he is responsible for developing, monitoring, and communicating business strategy and strategic priorities. He is also responsible for pursuing new partnerships, contracts, and business opportunities within health systems, payers, community organizations, value-based purchasing and alternative payment models. Peter oversees marketing, sales, consumer education, and communication strategies and corporate branding initiatives to drive awareness of and admission in our various services and programs.
Vice President of Finance and Operations
Toni Messler graduated magna cum laude from Meredith College with a degree in business administration. She has served the medical field as an office manager for physician practices and within hospital settings. Toni joined HOWC in 1993 initially serving in the positions of business manager and staff accountant. She was appointed vice president of finance and operations in 2002. Born and raised in New Jersey, Toni has lived in the Triangle area since the 1980s.
Laura Patel, MD, FAAHPM
Chief Medical Officer
Dr. Patel joined Transitions LifeCare in 2013 as medical director and now serves as Chief Medical Officer. She oversees the medical staff, the community-based and hospital-based palliative care programs, the Transitions Kids program and medical oversight for Transitions HospiceCare. Her interests include finding innovative care models to provide palliative care for people with advanced illness in collaboration with community partners, as well as ongoing efforts to reduce barriers to hospice care.
Dr. Patel is a fellow of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. 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. She is board certified in Internal Medicine, Geriatric Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine. In 2017, Dr. Patel 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. She served on the North Carolina IOM Taskforce on Serious Illness and remains active in the NC Serious Illness Coalition (NCSI). She also serves on the board of Resources for Seniors.
Jackie Ring, PhD, RN, FACHE, NEA-BC
Vice President of Clinical Services, Chief Innovation Officer
Jackie Ring 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 joint MHA/MBA degree. She has received 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. Jackie has lived in North Carolina her whole life: she is originally from Charlotte and now calls Cary home.
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 nursing care, and has served as a member, vice chair, and chair of the North Carolina Board of Nursing.
Melissa Short, MBA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
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 two senior-level certifications from both the HR Certification Institute® and the Society for Human Resource Management. As an experienced professional, her passion is helping organizations become an excellent place to work. When she’s not working for Transitions, Melissa is spending time with her husband, Brian, a Raleigh native, and their young daughter.