When I started in the finance department of St. Joseph’s Hospital in 1993, our four-county region boasted a population of just 2.5 million; four years later, when St. Joseph’s was among the not-for-profit hospitals that formed BayCare Health System, it was 2.6 million. Now, as I retire as chief executive officer of BayCare, 3.8 million people call Hillsborough, Pinellas, Polk and Pasco counties home.
I’m proud to have been part of growing and adapting your community-owned health care system. BayCare now has 15 hospitals (soon to be 16) and a fully integrated network of services that touch roughly one-third of the region’s population every year.
As I reflect on BayCare’s accomplishments, I am most proud that our team members and physicians have succeeded while maintaining the mission we began with: Improve the health of all we serve. I believe keeping BayCare strong is vital to ensuring Tampa Bay and West Central Florida remain vibrant, healthy places to live.
Later this month, Stephanie Conners, who began her career as a nurse and has been helping lead health care systems in Pennsylvania and New Jersey for the past two decades, will become only the fourth person to lead this important community organization.
BayCare was created in 1997 when a small group of not-for-profit hospital systems looked to ensure they could remain strong and relevant in a complex and highly competitive health care environment. At stake was the strength of local, community-led hospitals whose primary interest was serving their communities.
These hospitals’ histories were intertwined with their communities. They had been founded by nurses, physicians and community-minded individuals. They had been funded by religious organizations, wealthy patrons and legions of small-dollar donors. Through hard work, ingenuity and a passion for service, they had survived as independents for decades.
But the market was changing. These hospitals banded together in a unique partnership, each agreeing to have their operations managed by a new organization, BayCare, with the same community focus.
From those founding days, BayCare has matured significantly. We have built more hospitals to serve our communities and other hospitals have joined us. Together, every year, we return about 10 percent of our revenue back into charity care or other community investments.
And BayCare has evolved to ensure our communities have access to all levels of health care — not just hospitals — so individuals can get care when they need it close to or in their home. That includes one of the region’s largest physician organizations, BayCare Medical Group, and an extensive network of outpatient facilities and services, including BayCare HomeCare.
Spend your days with Hayes
Subscribe to our free Stephinitely newsletter
You’re all signed up!
Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.Explore all your options
I am also proud of the commitment we have made to our region’s youngest and to our collective mental health. These are important to us, not because they are major contributors to financial results (because they’re not), but because they are fundamental to any community’s long-term health.
We are the largest provider of pediatric care in the region, including the exceptional, specialized care found at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital in Tampa. We also are the region’s largest provider of behavioral health services and are continuing to add capacity. Our Board of Trustees remains deeply committed to our region’s mental health and it’s why we supported the founding of Tampa Bay Thrives.
Together, we have built a health care system that has been repeatedly recognized nationally as being in the top 20% in the country. Our 27,753 team members’ and roughly 5,000 physicians’ commitment to our communities is incredibly inspiring. And you, through placing your trust in us, have also helped us grow and remain strong.
Health care is a constantly changing industry due to advances in science, but also regulation. I feel better about our communities’ future because BayCare is here and remains steadfast in its commitment to clinical excellence and its mission to serve communities’ health. That is something for us all to be proud of.
Tommy Inzina, BayCare’s CEO and president, will retire later this month after 29 years with the organization.