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In health care and job creation, people to watch in 2013

Only three days into 2013 and the new year's already taking shape with new players and issues. Consider this a "Part 2" to my People To Watch in 2013 column that ran Sunday. It's going to be a busy year!

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Looks like 2013 will be a year of big health care changes. Not only is Obamacare pushing companies to rethink how to provide reasonable and remotely affordable coverage, but Tampa Bay hospitals and the hospital health care systems that run them are also in a power struggle to remain competitive and relevant.

The latest sign of change came in Wednesday's news that Jim Burkhart will take over the reins at Tampa General Hospital from retiring Ron Hytoff. Burkhart leaves behind his CEO job at Shands Jacksonville Medical Center, which like Tampa General, operates a Level 1 trauma center and serves as a safety-net provider for the area poor and uninsured. At the urging of Hillsborough County officials, Burkhart faces the political challenge of TGH making nice with the University of South Florida Medical School and its dean, Stephen Klasko, just as Klasko tries to build a USF-based network of hospitals.

Roiling such efforts to build stronger Tampa Bay health care foundations, Bayfront Medical Center and CEO Sue Brody in St. Petersburg this fall unveiled plans to join a for-profit hospital chain affiliated with the University of Florida medical center, a USF archrival. That drew dismay and some criticism from USF's Klasko. Add to that the naming this past summer of Johns Hopkins' Dr. Jonathan Ellen to head St. Petersburg's (and Hopkins-affiliated) All Children's Hospital. And do not forget the long arm of Clearwater's Steve Mason, CEO of 11-hospital-strong BayCare Health System and the alliance formed last month with Sarasota Memorial Hospital.

This is just the warm up for the hospital wars of 2013.

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Tampa Bay's regional economic development scene will be hopping this year as the strengthening economy breeds more job opportunities and Tampa Bay leaders try to leverage the hefty marketing sums spent in promoting this region during the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa.

As compelling as live-streaming the best of Tampa Bay's business scene was during the RNC, Tampa Bay Partnership chief Stuart Rogel still needs to figure out how to transform Internet interviews of Front Row Tampa Bay and the gobs of archived footage into this year's regional sales tool.

And watch for Rick Homans, finishing a successful first year as head of the Tampa/Hillsborough Economic Development Corp., to come up with an encore performance. For starters, the regional IT workforce gap study in 2012, aimed at creating workers with tech skills that best meet the neediest IT jobs, will be followed this year by a similar workforce project for area manufacturing. Two key players lurk in the background helping to drive these job-generation projects. They are Randy Berridge of the Florida High Tech Corridor and Ed Peachey of the Tampa Bay Workforce Alliance. Why them? Because both have the financial budgets that can help fund these pro-employment efforts. And in 2013 — like any year —those with the dough help make things go.

Contact Robert Trigaux at

In health care and job creation, people to watch in 2013 01/02/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 2, 2013 7:19pm]
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