BRANDON — It seemed like the dream job opportunity.
He's long had this community circled on his mental career map. But when the offer came to lead Brandon Regional Hospital, newly appointed chief executive officer Bland Eng said it carried an even sweeter draw.
"It's a great environment for my family to grow up in," he said.
Eng started the position this week, replacing longtime chief executive officer Mike Fencel, 52. After 14 years at the hospital, Fencel began a new job this month overseeing 11 hospitals as North Florida division CEO for Health Management Associates.
Brandon Regional Hospital is one of the area's top private employers. Under Fencel, Brandon Regional Hospital launched an open-heart surgery program that he says sets the institution apart from other community hospitals.
That's a trend the new management hopes to continue.
"What it will really come down to," said Eng, 41, "is looking at patients that aren't staying locally here and what services they are looking outside for. Does it make sense to start those services here?
"The more quality things that we can offer locally to patients, I think the better off everyone will be."
With the hospital mirroring the hometown culture and family atmosphere of Brandon, Eng said he is already considering expanding pediatric care. And he's keeping an eye out for new technology that could ease care for physicians and patients.
It won't be easy. The recession means more funding struggles for nonprofit and private hospitals — Brandon Regional Hospital is private, part of the national network HCA — and more people relying on governmental assistance instead of private insurance companies, Eng said.
All of that translates into slower growth for hospitals.
But Eng made it work before. During nearly five years at Palms West Hospital in Loxahatchee, Eng ushered in several new services, including da Vinci robotic surgery and a primary stroke program, he said. He also touted the addition of a floor at the children's hospital of Palms West to expand the pediatric intensive care unit and emergency department.
"Bland Eng has demonstrated an exceptional ability to create partnerships and collaborative relationships to enhance the level of care available at the facilities he leads, especially in the areas of pediatrics, women's services and cardiovascular care," HCA West Florida president Dan Miller wrote in an emailed statement. "He brings to Brandon a wealth of experience in developing high-quality, high-tech services from the ground up."
Born in Ohio and raised in New Jersey, Eng earned a bachelor's degree at the University of Miami and completed a combined masters program for business and health care sciences at the University of Florida. His resume includes leadership experience at several hospitals throughout Florida, tallying 17 years working for HCA.
Eng says he's in the process of buying a house in FishHawk Ranch and searching for ways to get involved in the community. He plans to move his family from Wellington in April.
And if the lure of east Hillsborough's good public schools and tight-knit community weren't enough, there's one more element that makes this move perfect for Eng, his wife, Erika, and two kids.
Along with 4-year-old daughter Ava, Eng has a 9-year-old son named Brandon.
"He's so excited he's moving by 'his' town," Eng said.
Times researcher John Martin contributed to this story. Stephanie Wang can be reached at [email protected]