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Bayfront Health system leader departs after 18 months on the job

CEO Joseph Mullany said he resigned, becoming the latest executive to depart the bay area network of seven hospitals.

ST. PETERSBURG — The regional leader of the Bayfront Health network of seven hospitals is leaving.

Joseph Mullany told the Tampa Bay Times that he resigned on Wednesday after 18 months as regional president and chief executive officer.

He was hired in February 2018 to oversee all of the company’s regional hospitals along the Interstate 75 corridor, stretching from Venice to Brooksville. During his short tenure, he became acting chief executive of the health system’s flagship hospital, Bayfront Health St. Petersburg, and battled with St. Petersburg City Council members over charity care and other issues.

Mullany was responsible for the strategic development of Bayfront Health and management support to its network of hospitals. His departure is the latest in a series of abrupt leadership changes and turmoil at Bayfront Health.

His departure comes just two weeks after a contentious St. Petersburg City Council meeting when members asked hospital leadership tough questions about its finances and the quality of care it was providing to the needy.

RELATED STORY: Bayfront Health St. Petersburg dogged by questions about finances, patient care

Mullany, 52, said he plans to return to Michigan to spend more time with his children.

“My family never moved down,” he said. "The St. Petersburg hospital is in good hands and it’s doing better than when I first came here. I see a good path for it going forward.”

Company spokeswoman Tomi Galin confirmed his resignation.

“We appreciate Joe’s leadership and contributions over the last 18 months and wish him well. Bayfront Health Network will continue to be supported by Kim Elyanow, regional CFO, and Dr. Suzanne White, regional chief medical officer,” Galin said in an email. "Bayfront’s hospital CEOs and other leaders throughout the network remain focused on supporting the delivery of quality care for patients and implementing operational and strategic initiatives.”

Community Health Systems, which owns all Bayfront Health hospitals, is one of the nation’s largest owners and operators of hospitals. The company has struggled financially in recent years, posting heavy net losses quarter after quarter and has sold dozens of under-performing hospitals from its portfolio, such as selling Bayfront Health Dade City hospital to AdventHealth last year.

During Mullany’s tenure, Bayfront Health’s partnership with the University of South Florida’s medical school was terminated. And over the past year, the hospital laid off around 50 employees.

Mullany also shed new light on Bayfront Health St. Petersburg’s last shakeup. In February, the company said the hospital’s former chief executive officer John McLain and chief financial officer Pamela Modisett had resigned. But Mullany on Wednesday said he fired them.

Both have since been replaced. Sharon Hayes, a registered nurse with executive leadership experience at other Tampa Bay area hospitals, was hired as CEO last month.

Community Health Systems bought Bayfront Health St. Petersburg, once known as Bayfront Medical Center, in 2013 from another hospital chain, Health Management Associates. Bayfront Health is the city’s oldest and largest hospital, and a Level 2 trauma center. It has a long history of serving the city’s most vulnerable residents.

“Mr. Mullany’s departure does not resolve the concerns I have about our city’s asset,” City Council member Amy Foster said. “While I hope his next executive team is more collaborative with its landlord the constant churn of leadership continues to give me pause. The questions left unanswered at our last meeting still need to be addressed.”

RELATED STORY: Bayfront Health St. Petersburg hires new CEO

Prior to coming to Florida, Mullany served as president and CEO of the Detroit Medical Center, an eight-hospital academic system in Michigan, for four years. There he oversaw the hospital system during a state and federal investigation following the publication of a series of stories by the Detroit News exposing complaints over improperly sterilized instruments.