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Bayfront Medical Center sale will launch community nonprofit

ST. PETERSBURG — A new management team will step up as the sale of Bayfront Health System closes on Monday.

But a key piece of the deal remains in early planning stages: the new charitable organization meant to protect and advance Bayfront's legacy of community service.

The concept of the new not-for-profit, called Bayfront Health Education & Research Organization (Bayfront HERO), was critical to garnering public support for its sale to a for-profit chain.

Naples-based Health Management Associates, with 70 hospitals nationally, is acquiring an 80 percent controlling interest in Bayfront. The remaining 20 percent will be controlled by Bayfront HERO. The total sale price is $202 million.

A new leadership team will be in place when the deal closes Monday. Kathryn Gillette, a veteran hospital administrator, is beginning work as Bayfront's new chief executive officer and is expected to announce her picks for chief financial officer and chief operating officer.

The end of Bayfront as a private, not-for-profit marks the beginning of Bayfront HERO, expected to launch as one of the county's largest charities with an endowment of as much as $150 million.

"Under design," is how Steven Dupre, vice chairman of the Bayfront board of trustees, describes the not-for-profit, whose inaugural board will largely consist of the hospital's current volunteer trustees.

"It's really an exciting opportunity for the community because we get to design this in a way that maximizes the benefit," he said. "We don't have to be constrained by anybody."

The organization's roles include oversight of the new joint venture that will operate Bayfront. HMA and Bayfront HERO will have equal representation on its board, which hospital leaders have described as a way of protecting its mission.

Bayfront's initial appointees will be Dupre, an attorney; Katie Pemble, a banker; Jay Miller, a developer; and Dr. Larry Davis, a pathologist.

The lengths of their terms have not been defined. Neither is it yet known exactly how Bayfront HERO will approach its role as a "health, education and research" organization.

Dupre expected the board will spend three to four months studying possibilities.

"We're organizing a very deliberate process to educate ourselves," said Dupre, who expects to seek ideas from the community. "It would not do anybody justice for us to try to hypothesize what specific types of projects we might do."

It could also take several months to finalize how much money will seed the Bayfront HERO endowment, estimated to launch with $130 to $150 million. The organization plans to contract with outgoing Bayfront chief financial officer Bob Thornton to wrap up outstanding hospital business matters, such as unpaid bills and service contracts.

Another high-profile departure from Bayfront's current management team is Kanika Tomalin, vice president of strategic planning and public affairs, and the hospital's chief liaison to the public on the HMA deal.

Beginning Monday, Tomalin will lead strategy for HMA's nearly two dozen hospitals in Florida, also serving as the vice president overseeing marketing and public affairs for the regional network of seven HMA hospitals anchored by Bayfront.

Letitia Stein can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8330.

Bayfront Medical Center sale will launch community nonprofit 03/27/13 [Last modified: Saturday, March 30, 2013 11:31am]
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