ST. PETERSBURG — The Health Management Associates executive who was a point man for the hospital chain's takeover of Bayfront Medical Center earlier this year is resigning to take a job in Tennessee.
The announced departure of senior vice president Alan Levine comes amid months of turmoil at Naples-based HMA, a for-profit hospital chain that faces poor earnings reports and ongoing inquiries by federal investigators into allegations of improper hospital admissions. Until HMA took over, Bayfront had been a nonprofit over its century-long history.
Less than a month ago, another for-profit hospital chain, Community Health Systems Inc., announced it would purchase HMA in a $7.6 million deal. Then just last week, HMA shareholders ousted the entire board of directors, a move that threatens to complicate the purchase.
Steven Dupre, a St. Petersburg lawyer who serves on the joint venture board between HMA and Bayfront Health Education & Research Organization, said Bayfront leaders secured protections that will maintain stability during the "interesting developments" at the parent company.
"We don't view a change at the board of directors level as in any way diminishing the contractual commitments," said Dupre. "We have no reason to feel concerned."
Levine, 46, will start his new job as president and chief executive officer of the not-for-profit Mountain States Health Alliance in January. The alliance, based in Johnson City, Tenn., operates a group of hospitals in northeast Tennessee, southwest Virginia, southeastern Kentucky and western North Carolina.
He was secretary of the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration under Gov. Jeb Bush. He later served in Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration as secretary of that state's Department of Health and Hospitals.
Levine said a Mountain States recruiter contacted him in April. He said he couldn't pass up the job opportunity or the chance to live in an area he and his wife have always loved. He said the current tensions at HMA played no role in his decision and added that he expected the transition for Bayfront to move smoothly.
"Bayfront won't miss a beat," he said.
HMA runs 71 hospitals, with about two dozen in Florida, including Bayfront as well as Pasco Regional Medical Center in Dade City, Brooksville Regional Hospital and Spring Hill Regional Hospital. Tennessee-based Community Health owns or leases 135 hospitals nationwide, including two in Florida, the 110-bed North Okaloosa Medical Center in Crestview and the 160-bed Lake Wales Medical Center.
The Tennessee alliance has been looking for a replacement for its CEO, who is retiring at the end of this year.
HMA spokeswoman MaryAnn Hodge said she could not comment on filling Levine's post, as the deal with Community Health Systems is pending. She released a statement from HMA's interim president and CEO John Starcher:
"Alan is a friend and a loyal colleague who most of you know as a dedicated leader committed to the success of not only our company, but the people with whom he works. He is a leader with integrity, a sincere belief in our mission, and a strong advocate for our operators in the field," Starcher wrote. "We have been richly blessed by his many talents and, no doubt, are a better company as a result of his time with us."