Brian Adams describes himself as a storyteller. He tells the tale of the heart patient who healed faster because of a nurse who took extra time to chat. Or the patient who didn't get an infection because the housekeeper did such a great job cleaning. The doctor whose speed and skill saved an accident victim's life. "It's my job to help people remember why they do what they do," said the new administrator for Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel, formerly Wesley Chapel Medical Center.
Recently renamed to reflect a merger between its parent companies, Adventist Health System and University Community Hospital, it still exists only on paper. But by the end of next year, the 80-bed hospital with its circular driveway on Bruce B. Downs Boulevard will be part of Wesley Chapel's emerging skyline.
It's another man's job to build it, but it will be Adams' to run it.
"The baby was already designed," he said. "I'm just here to catch the baby," he said referencing an obstetrician joke.
Already he has been flooded with e-mails from people eager, and in some cases desperate, for jobs. It's a rare opportunity, to get to pick employees from scratch, and not one he takes lightly.
"We will be very choosy," Adams assured a group of Rotarians last week.
Once these staffers are hired, Adams said, it will be his mission to maintain the level of excitement and block barriers that prevent them from doing what they enjoy.
"We want to tie everyone's task back to how it helps the patient," he said.
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Adams, only 30, has been an executive since he was in his mid 20s, an age when many of his peers still lived with mom and dad.
"You don't see a lot of early 30-somethings running and building a hospital out of the ground," said Rob Fulbright, CEO for Florida Hospital Altamonte, who promoted Adams to second-in-command there. "Not a lot of CEOs get to do what Brian is getting to do."
Born in Canada, Adams (yes, he's heard the '80s singer joke a million times) was the older of two sons and grew up in Oshawa, a suburb east of Toronto, home to General Motors Canada.
As a middle schooler, he aspired to become CEO of Air Canada. He still holds a fascination with airports and likens hospitals to them.
In both cases, a lot of things have the potential to go wrong.
"The check-in computer doesn't work … you get hassled at security … your plane is late. You miss your plane. The results are of quality and excellence if things go right, devastating if things go wrong."
In high school, he ran the yearbook and served as student council president.
A Seventh-day Adventist, Adams went to Union College, a church-sponsored school in Lincoln, Neb., where he decided to put his interest in business toward a career in health care administration.
"I never tried to figure out how much money I could make from a lemonade stand," he said. "I'm not the entrepreneurial type."
He's definitely the outgoing type, those who know him say.
"He has a huge heart, a real passion for people," said Fulbright, who entrusted Adams with running the 341-bed hospital and overseeing the building of a six-story patient tower.
It's those people skills that allow him to win the trust of those he supervises. It's what helped him take what officials described as a "mess" of an emergency department at Altamonte Springs and transform it into an efficient operation that ensures patients get to see a doctor an hour or less after they check in.
"He had a vision for what he wanted it to look like," said Heather Long, Altamonte's chief nursing officer. "He helped people understand how we could get there."
Adams spent time shadowing ER staff and trying to see what might be keeping them from doing their best. Often, it involved moving equipment or changing procedures.
"He made people want to be a part of a larger cause," Long said. "He said if this were your mom would you want her in our lobby for eight hours?
"He holds people accountable but with love. He helps you get there. A lot of people just say. 'Go do this' and people don't know how to get there, and so it never gets done."
In addition to better "door to doc" times, employee morale shot up, Fulbright said.
"He was making sure he was side by side with them as they were beginning to effect change," Fulbright said.
The result was better emergency rooms across the area.
"Our competitors took notice and had to deliver the same level of care," Fulbright said.
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Adams rarely stayed in his Altamonte office, which held photos of his wife, Gwendy, and their 9-month-old son, Mason, as well as an aquarium.
"I like to wander," he said. To keep his 6-foot-7-inch frame steady, he wears Rockport Dress Sport shoes.
He works hard, acquaintances say, but he's not a workaholic.
A Toronto Maple Leafs jersey hangs from the door of his temporary office on the University Community Hospital campus.
"I'm going to the game tonight," he said sheepishly, promising that he's also a Tampa Bay Lightning fan.
He knows big challenges lie ahead, even if he weren't opening a new hospital.
Health care costs are soaring. Reimbursements are shrinking.
"We'll never have more dollars to run a hospital than we do today," he said.
To that end, wellness is a big part of Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel. The hospital will feature a medical fitness center for patients who need therapy or exercise. Also, Adams said, someone who gets diagnosed with an illness such as diabetes will get to watch a video, eat gourmet diabetic meals and even be able to have those same meals delivered to their home until they learn to cook for themselves.
"We will get paid to get people well and keep them well, not how to process them when they're sick," he said. "The question will be how do we do fewer patient surgeries instead of how do we do more of it."