ST. PETERSBURG — After leading Bayfront Medical Center for almost two decades, hospital president and CEO Sue Brody said Wednesday she plans to resign once the sale of the hospital is complete.
In a statement, Brody said she made the decision late last week in conjunction with Bayfront's new partners at Health Management Associates, which will hold an 80 percent share in a joint venture that will operate Bayfront Health System.
The deal could be sealed today in a vote by the St. Petersburg City Council, which must approve a new lease for the hospital sitting on city-owned land.
"This is the final major milestone prior to our expected launch in April. I remain pleased with the outcome and proud of the partnership we have worked for more than two years to create," Brody said in the statement emailed late Wednesday afternoon to hospital employees and medical staff. "It meets each of our goals for partnership, and paves the way for Bayfront's bright and successful future."
There are no plans for Brody, 55, to continue in any other capacity at Bayfront, according to Kanika Tomalin, the hospital's vice president for strategic planning and public affairs. Brody was not available for an interview, hospital officials said.
"She is an extraordinary leader," said Alan Levine, a senior vice president at Naples-based HMA. "She has worked really hard to try to find a partner that will carry Bayfront forward."
He stressed that the decision to depart was Brody's to make, with no one forcing her to leave.
Brody came to Bayfront in 1987 as the chief operating officer. She was named its president and CEO in 1995 at the age of 37, becoming one of the region's highest-ranking female executives and one of the youngest.
Under her leadership, Bayfront increased its market share in a highly competitive market, Tomalin noted. She oversaw major expansions, including the construction of the James Heart Center and Bayfront Baby Place, a new maternity unit within neighboring All Children's Hospital.
Brody also steered Bayfront through a controversial past attempt to team up with a larger hospital system.
In the 1990s, Bayfront was a founding member of BayCare Health System, a regional not-for-profit. But prompted in part by civil rights groups, the city sued after learning Bayfront had altered some of its policies regarding issues such as abortion in deference to BayCare's Catholic ties. Bayfront ultimately agreed in a settlement with the city to remain a secular hospital.
In recent months, Brody has advocated for Bayfront's HMA deal as some City Council members expressed concerns about a critical 60 Minutes investigation of the company alleging profit-boosting in its emergency room practices. She also pledged Bayfront's ongoing commitment to providing charity care.
Brody did not set a date for her departure.
Council member Leslie Curran didn't think Brody's announcement would necessarily have any bearing on the Bayfront vote.
"When you're doing a merger or acquisition of this nature, you always expect some things may change," she said.
Times reporter Dan Sullivan and researcher Natalie Watson contributed to this report. Letitia Stein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8330.