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Bayfront Health St. Petersburg names new CEO

By Kathleen McGrory
John McLain will become Bayfront Health St. Petersburg's chief executive in July 2017.

ST. PETERSBURG — Bayfront Health St. Petersburg, the city's largest and oldest hospital, has named a new chief executive.

Veteran health care administrator John McLain will assume Bayfront's top job on July 17. He replaces Kathryn Gillette, who is retiring.

"The physicians, nurses and other caregivers at Bayfront Health St. Petersburg are a highly skilled and compassionate team," McLain said in a statement. "Patients are receiving quality care each day, from emergency trauma services to elective procedures. I look forward to supporting and promoting their good work throughout the community."

McLain most recently served as CEO at a sister hospital, Venice Regional Bayfront Health. He took that job in February of 2016, after federal inspections revealed Venice Regional had serious problems with rodents and sewage — and is largely credited with the hospital's turnaround.

McLain resigned in May, saying he planned to take a hospital job in North Carolina, where he has family. Through a Bayfront spokeswoman, he declined to comment on what happened.

He'll face big financial challenges at Bayfront. The private, for-profit hospital expects to lose between $8.5 and $10 million in state funding next year.

What's more, because Bayfront sits on city-owned land, McLain will face scrutiny from the St. Petersburg City Council. Under its land lease agreement, the hospital must continue serving the poor and uninsured.

Michael Brown, the chairman of Bayfront's local board of directors, praised McLain's "breadth of experience and strength of leadership."

"We have an outstanding program of clinical services and he will help us build on our many strengths," Brown said in a statement.

Bayfront isn't the only Tampa Bay area hospital that will soon have new leadership. John D. Couris becomes the new chief executive at Tampa General Hospital in September.

Contact Kathleen McGrory at [email protected] or (727) 893-8330. Follow @kmcgrory.