TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Ron DeSantis’ chief of staff, Shane Strum, is leaving his post after two years to lead Broward Health at the start of March, marking a continuation of a shakeup within the DeSantis administration over the past week.
The departure of Strum, whom DeSantis brought in at the start of his time in office, had been rumored for months, and the Broward Health board of commissioners tapped Strum as its new chief executive officer on Monday, the Sun-Sentinel first reported.
Strum, a native to Broward County and a former executive vice president of Memorial Healthcare System, was offered a three-year contract and will start the new job March 8, the Sentinel reported.
DeSantis’ office declined to comment on Strum’s departure when asked about it. Strum did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Times/Herald.
His departure, however, means DeSantis will soon replace his administration’s top adviser heading into the 2021 legislative session amid a pandemic and the state’s vaccination rollout.
Whoever takes on the role will be instrumental in crafting the governor’s agenda. Nearly every decision made by DeSantis over the past two years has been done in consultation with Strum, whom he talks to nearly every day, according to the governor’s public schedules.
Strum came into the job in 2019 with some familiarity, having already served as chief of staff for former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, who is openly contemplating a 2022 bid for governor as a Democrat.
In the first two years, Strum helped DeSantis set an agenda that got bipartisan support focused on the environment and increasing Florida teachers’ pay. Such a proposal boosted the governor’s favorability rating, but his popularity has plunged amid the state’s handling of the pandemic.
In his interview with the Broward Health board on Monday, Strum highlighted his clout in the DeSantis administration and the state’s collaboration with hospitals for COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites.
“This administration has really focused on the pandemic, and some of the things that we’ve learned during the pandemic is how important these hospitals are, how important the front-line healthcare workers — our doctors, our nurses and all our clinicians — are in making a difference every single day in the lives of Floridians,” Strum said.
Strum also praised Broward Health for a job “well done” with its vaccination sites.
Strum earns more than $180,000 per year as DeSantis’ top adviser. As CEO for Broward Health, his annual salary will be $920,000, the Sun-Sentinel reports.
Joseph Mullany, chief executive officer of Bayfront Health System in St. Petersburg, and Dr. Michael Hochberg, a senior executive of a Texas health network, president of a physician group and board-certified in emergency medicine, were candidates who were also in the running for Broward Health CEO.
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The Sun-Sentinel reports that Strum will come in at a time of much-needed stability to a five-hospital health system that has been beset by leadership turnover and allegations of financial malfeasance in recent years. He will replace outgoing CEO Gino Santorio, who has been able to improve the hospital system’s credit rating, attract new doctors and navigate the pandemic.
Meanwhile, in Tallahassee, DeSantis is facing a lot of turnover in his administration. On Friday, he announced that four of his top staffers were resigning or changing leadership posts in the coming weeks.
He said Department of Children and Families Secretary Chad Poppell is resigning effective Feb. 19 and that Agency for Health Care Administration Acting Secretary Shevaun Harris will serve as Poppell’s replacement.
Simone Marstiller, who previously served as secretary of the Department of Juvenile Justice, will take over Harris’ post as AHCA secretary.
And Jonathan Satter tendered his resignation as secretary of the Department of Management Services, which oversees state personnel and contracts.