When I started working in the finance department of St. Joseph’s Hospital in 1993, our four-county region had a population of just 2.5 million; four years later, when St. Joseph’s was among the nonprofit hospitals that formed BayCare Health System, it was 2.6 million. Now, as I retire as CEO of BayCare, 3.8 million people call Hillsborough, Pinellas, Polk and Pasco counties home.
I am proud to have participated in the growth and adaptation of your community health care system. BayCare now has 15 hospitals (soon to be 16) and a fully integrated service network that reaches approximately one-third of the region’s population each year.
As I reflect on BayCare’s accomplishments, I’m very proud that our team members and physicians have succeeded while maintaining the mission we started with: improving the health of everyone we serve. I believe maintaining BayCare is critical to ensuring that Tampa Bay and West Central Florida remain vibrant and healthy places to live.
Later this month, Stephanie Conners, who began her career as a nurse and has helped lead the health care systems in Pennsylvania and New Jersey for the past two decades, will only become the fourth person to lead this important community organization.
BayCare was created in 1997 when a small group of not-for-profit hospital systems sought to ensure they could remain strong and relevant in a complex and highly competitive healthcare environment. At stake was the strength of local community-run hospitals whose primary interest was to serve their communities.
The history of these hospitals was intimately linked to that of their communities. They had been founded by nurses, doctors and community-minded people. They had been funded by religious organizations, wealthy patrons and legions of small donors. Through hard work, ingenuity and a passion for service, they had survived as independents for decades.
But the market was changing. These hospitals came together in a unique partnership, each agreeing to have their operations managed by a new organization, BayCare, with the same community purpose.
Since those founding days, BayCare has matured considerably. We have built more hospitals to serve our communities and more hospitals have joined us. Together, each year, we reinvest approximately 10% of our income into charitable 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—nearby or at home. This includes one of the region’s largest physician organizations, BayCare Medical Group, and an extensive network of outpatient facilities and services, including BayCare HomeCare.
I am also proud of the commitment we have made to the youngest in our region and to our collective mental health. These are important to us, not because they are major contributors to bottom line (because they aren’t), but because they are fundamental to the long-term health of any community.
We are the region’s largest provider of pediatric care, including the exceptional specialty care found at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital in Tampa. We are also the largest provider of behavioral health services in the region and continue to expand our capabilities. Our Board of Directors remains deeply committed to the mental health of our region and that is why we supported the Tampa Bay Thrives Foundation.
Together, we have built a health care system that has been repeatedly recognized nationally as one of the top 20% in the country. The commitment of our 27,753 team members and approximately 5,000 physicians to our communities is incredibly inspiring. And you, by placing your trust in us, have also helped us grow and stay strong.
Health care is an ever-changing industry due to advances in science, but also regulation. I feel better about the future of our communities because BayCare is here and remains true to its commitment to clinical excellence and its mission to serve healthy communities. It’s something we can all be proud of.
Tommy Inzina, CEO and President of BayCare, will retire later this month after 29 years with the organization.