ST. PETERSBURG — Nearly nine months after announcing it, All Children's Hospital is now officially part of the prestigious Johns Hopkins Health System.
Top officials from both institutions will make the formal announcement this morning at an event outside the hospital.
The partnership will be visible in a logo that adds "Johns Hopkins Medicine" under the All Children's name. The logo has been seen on a banner in a conference room and on stethoscope ID tags handed out to doctors over the weekend.
"This is a momentous occasion — the beginning of a new chapter in the history of All Children's Hospital," said Gary Carnes, All Children's president and chief executive, who remains in his position along with the rest of the hospital's leadership team.
St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster is expected to be at today's event, along with members of the City Council, said Cindy Rose, All Children's associate vice president for marketing and community relations. Members of the Pinellas County Commission also have been invited, along with other government and community leaders.
About a dozen top Hopkins' officials have flown in for the event. They include Ronald Peterson, president of the Johns Hopkins Health System, and Dr. Edward Miller, dean and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine.
But when they return, one will stay behind. Dr. Jonathan Ellen will move from Hopkins' Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore to become physician-in-chief at All Children's.
Ellen estimates that since July, he has spent 30 to 40 days at All Children's, getting to know its doctors and staff.
"It's been a great process," Ellen, 49, said in an interview Saturday. "We've learned about each other in a really important way."
Ellen has moved into an apartment close to All Children's. His wife and two teenage children will remain in the Baltimore area for the time being, he said.
Though much work has gone into the deal, the change will be hardly noticeable to patients and the community, at least in the near term.
Leadership and day-to-day operations of the 84-year-old hospital and its other facilities are not expected to change. No money will change hands, though Hopkins will assume ultimate financial responsibility for All Children's.
And very little will change inside the hospital.
"Someone entering the hospital tomorrow may see a different sign. But in terms of the care, it will be the same excellent care they're getting," Ellen said.
But much work lies ahead, as Ellen tries to build an academic and research program at Hopkins' first venture outside the Baltimore-Washington area. He envisions a new type of physician residency program to complement a new medical school curriculum recently adopted at Hopkins.
The curriculum, called Genes to Society, is the first academic overhaul at the Hopkins medical school in 20 years. Ellen said the new curriculum will, among other things, help tomorrow's doctors better understand and treat chronic illnesses such as diabetes and asthma, which have skyrocketed over the years.
"As you talk about these chronic illnesses, which are on the rise, it takes complex thinking," Ellen said. "And we're still trained in linear thinking."
Meanwhile, the University of South Florida's residency program at All Children's will continue at least through 2014. Carnes said he and Ellen plan to meet with Dr. Stephen Klasko, dean of the USF College of Medicine, this month "to talk about ways to extend that beyond 2014."
Ellen brims with excitement as he talks about his new role. He has set a high goal: for All Children's to become a Top 10 children's hospital.
"How will we know if we're starting to get there?" he asked. "People will say, first of all, that's a place I want to take my children, it will be a place where people in this country say I want to go and train, and it's where people will say, 'I can't believe the research they're doing there.' "
Richard Martin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8330.