1. Opinion

Editorial: Tampa General chief off to strong start

Published Oct. 17, 2013

Jim Burkhart is off to a strong start at Tampa General Hospital. In less than a year as president and chief executive, Burkhart has underscored the hospital's mission to the poor; strengthened ties to the University of South Florida, its main academic partner; and carved a new business vision that promises to make the region a healthier and more dynamic place to live. This is good news for an institution that is a lifeline for so many and an economic driver for the entire region.

Burkhart has wasted no time in learning about the area and finding a direction for TGH since arriving in March. He has affirmed the hospital's historic mission as a safety net provider, sketched an ambitious vision for expanding primary care, and created a framework for building new clinical and specialty care facilities aimed at improving health care across a wide swath of Florida.

Balancing the need to grow the business while providing charity care and serving as USF's main teaching hospital is not easy in the evolving health care market. Burkhart's experience at Shands Jacksonville Medical Center, another nonprofit affiliated with the University of Florida, gives him a sensitivity for these dueling challenges. He speaks carefully about building on the hospital's 3 percent operating margin, mindful that Tampa General is a nonprofit community provider. And he has calmed area concerns by making clear that the hospital and USF are long-term partners, breaking through an impasse to sign a new three-year medical education affiliation agreement that automatically renews.

Burkhart is also adding detail to the new partnership Tampa General announced with Florida Hospital, part of the Orlando-based Adventist network that operates locally in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties. Tampa General will not abandon its local mission but will team up on new specialty care facilities. Burkhart also wants to make services more accessible by incorporating some outpatient care under a "big box" facility west of downtown.

Burkhart understands Tampa General's strengths and the strong connection the region has to what U.S. News and World Report named last year as Florida's best hospital. The role he sees in providing charity care, an academic environment and specialized services — from organ transplants to burn care — will build the hospital's reputation for excellence. Burkhart has also stepped comfortably into his role as a leading voice for safety net hospitals in Florida, arguing for the state to accept federal money to expand health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act. His vision of creating a delivery system to make the community healthier is the right priority for Tampa General. And it promises to strengthen the ties of the hospital in the political and civic fabric of Tampa Bay.


  1. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is poised to play a key role in advancing three civil rights protections. [CHRIS URSO | Times]
    A federal judge and the governor send positive signals on restoring rights for felons. But the state has more work to do.
  2. Medal of Honor recipients Retired Army Maj. Drew Dix, left, and Ret. Army Sgt. Maj. Gary Littrell pose for a portrait during the start of the Medal of Honor Convention held at the Tampa Marriott Water Street in Tampa, Florida on Monday, October 21, 2019.  OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times
    Here’s what readers had to say in Thursday’s letters to the editor.
  3. Former Ambassador William Taylor leaves a closed door meeting after testifying as part of the House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) ANDREW HARNIK  |  AP
    William Taylor demonstrates how to stand up for integrity and national purpose, says columnist Timothy O’Brien
  4. Emmett Till, shown with his mother, Mamie, was murdered in 1955 in Mississippi at age 14.
    Courage is why Emmett Till’s legacy is bulletproof. | Leonard Pitts Jr.
  5. Men and boys pose beneath the body of Lige Daniels, a black man, shortly after he was lynched on August 3, 1920, in Center, Texas.  This scene was turned into a postcard depicting the lynching.  The back reads, "He killed Earl's grandma. She was Florence's mother. Give this to Bud. From Aunt Myrtle." Wikimedia Commons
    Trump faces a constitutional process. Thousands of black men faced hate-filled lawless lynch mobs.
  6. Editorial cartoons for Wednesday CLAY BENNETT  |  Chattanooga Times Free Press
  7. Scott Israel, former Broward County Sheriff speaks during a news conference in September. A Florida Senate official is recommending that the sheriff, suspended over his handling of shootings at a Parkland high school and the Fort Lauderdale airport, should be reinstated. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson) BRYNN ANDERSON  |  AP
    The Florida Senate will vote Wednesday whether to remove or reinstate former Broward Sheriff Scott Israel. Facts, not partisan politics, should be the deciding factors.
  8. An ROTC drill team participates in competition.
    Here’s what readers had to say in Wednesday’s letters to the editor.
  9. On Oct. 17, 2019, White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney arrives to a news conference, in Washington. On Sunday, Oct. 20, on "Fox News Sunday," after acknowledging the Trump administration held up aid to Ukraine in part to prod the nation to investigate the 2016 elections, Mulvaney defended Trump’s decision to hold an international meeting at his own golf club, although the president has now dropped that plan. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File) EVAN VUCCI  |  AP
    Flagrant violations are still wrong, even if made in public. | Catherine Rampell
  10. In this photo released by the White House, President Donald Trump, center right, meets with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, standing left, congressional leadership and others on Oct. 16 in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead via AP) SHEALAH CRAIGHEAD  |  AP
    The House speaker is increasingly is acting almost like a prime minister. | Eugene Robinson