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Seven Rivers acquires new name, CEO

Seven Rivers Community Hospital got both a new name and a new chief executive Tuesday.

New owner Health Management Associates Inc. christened the 128-bed hospital as Seven Rivers Regional Medical Center. The corporation also introduced 16-year HMA veteran J. David McCormack as the hospital's new CEO.

The seemingly quick changes actually have been in the works since August, when the Naples-based health care company announced it had signed a definitive agreement with Tenet Health Corp. to acquire five of its hospitals in Florida, Missouri and Tennessee for $550-million.

During an interview Tuesday, McCormack said the recent decisions for Seven Rivers weren't indicative of any major overhaul to come.

"We really don't anticipate any changes," he said. "It's really a top-quality medical provider in the community, and we certainly want to keep it that way."

Still, the shakeup had significant ramifications for at least one hospital employee. The hospital just named longtime employee Joyce Brancato its 10th CEO in late May, promoting her from chief operating officer. She'll return to that role under the new ownership, McCormack said.

The leadership switch, he explained, is typical for hospitals acquired by HMA. The country's largest operator of nonurban, general acute-care hospitals prefers to bring in one of its own employees who is familiar with the company's philosophy and way of doing business, he said.

McCormack, 47, fits that bill. This is the fifth HMA-owned hospital he has led as CEO having recently served five years in the position at Riverview Regional Medical Center in Gadsden, Ala.

"(Joyce) has done an outstanding job" since being named CEO, McCormack said. "Joyce is a very valuable person to our facility and we look forward to her being here for many years to come."

McCormack began his role as CEO at the 25-year-old hospital Monday, just two days after HMA officially took over from Tenet. Thus, the day was momentous for the county's two hospitals: Ryan D. Beaty officially took the reins Monday as the new CEO at Citrus Memorial Hospital.

Like Beaty, the new Seven Rivers chief is returning to his Florida roots. Born in Fort Walton Beach, McCormack said he has lived most of his life in cities around the Sunshine State. He holds an accounting degree from Auburn University and earned an MBA from Florida Atlantic University.

Most of the immediate transitions at Seven Rivers will be internal, something Seven Rivers employees have experienced during several previous ownership changeovers. The hospital was opened by Medfield Corp., sold to National Medical Enterprises in the early 1980s and then came under Tenet when it formed in 1995.

During the next month, the staff will be adjusting to the new information systems HMA is bringing in. These tracking systems, McCormack said, will offer faster diagnoses and treatment in the emergency room and more convenient access to patient's medical files for physicians.

But the hospital's new name will be the most visible outward change. The decision to alter the name slightly came as a response to how the hospital has evolved during its 25 years in the community, McCormack said.

"The hospital has grown over the years," he said. "We serve multiple counties. I think it better reflects what we are now."

_ Colleen Jenkins can be reached at 860-7303 or cjenkinssptimes.com.

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