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Tampa General President Speaks at Chamber Breakfast

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Every fourth Wednesday of the month, the Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce hosts a membership meeting and breakfast at the Sand Hill Scout Reservation Lodge. Alongside the breakfast spread that includes sausage, eggs, bacon, biscuits, and gravy, a guest speaker is brought in to present to local business owners.

On Wednesday, April 24, the President and CEO of Tampa General Hospital (TGH), John Couris, discussed the hospital’s journey and what it is bringing to the community. This is timely as the Tampa-based health institution recently completed its acquisition of the local Bravera Health. He began with a video presentation that highlighted the strengths of TGH.

Tampa General partners with USF Health Morsani College of Medicine to save lives by “fuel[ing] clinical breakthroughs and deliver[ing] innovative treatments.” They train over 700 residents and fellows and have over 150 locations across the state of Florida. TGH is also developing the Tampa Medical and Research District which will act as the center of academics, health care, and biotechnology to deliver a projected $8.3 billion dollar impact to the region.

Having been named the top health system on the West Coast of Florida and in the top 100 by “Newsweek,” Couris and company are looking to bring their resources and expertise to the new TGH North branch. The hospital’s president discussed what that entails at Wednesday’s meeting:

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“We made it very clear to the community, we want to build more health care in the local communities because we fundamentally believe that most of the care should be done in your community,” said Couris. “You should not have to leave Hernando County to get health care. Health care should come to you. Health care should be designed around you […]”

The hospital’s mission is not just to build more services and programs in the county but to support their academics and research as well. With hundreds of fellows and residents, the hospital needs more “content” to train future physicians. Why Hernando? The answer is simple: the county is burgeoning, yet there is not an abundance of hospitals.

President Couris told the gathered crowd of executives that TGH was approached on three separate occasions by developers to get the healthcare provider to build a hospital in Pasco. Tampa General ultimately passed on these offers, though, because the county already has plenty of hospitals and it is growing younger. Now that TGH is in Hernando, they are looking to become part of the “fabric” of the county.

“It is just a beautiful community, and we are absolutely delighted to be a part of it,” Couris said.
The Tampa-based hospital is six months into its two-year plan that includes continuing to focus on patient care, investing in technologies, developing a five-year community investment plan, organizational culture, enhancing relationships with physicians, and achieving “quick wins.”
As part of this, they strove to maintain 100 percent of the leadership team at the new branch. According to Couris, it proved a herculean task akin to “recruiting Tom Brady to the Bucs” because Community Health Systems was attempting to poach one of their staff. It was critical to the president that they keep the staff around since they do “outstanding work,” but they just lacked some of the resources before TGH came into the picture.

Couris provided an example of a “quick win” for his team. When acquiring the former Bravera Health, he wanted to provide a level 2 NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) at the location. Fortunately, the new branch had the facilities, so much so that they impressed TGH’s president. The only issue was that they did not have the proper staffing. This issue should be more easily fixed with Tampa General’s resources.

Couris noted as much during the Q&A portion at the end of his presentation. When County Administrator Jeffrey Rogers asked about TGH’s ability to bring on skilled practitioners with Hernando booming in population, he responded:

“We do not have a problem recruiting doctors of any kind because of our reputation, because of this community, because of the diversity [of environment].” Couris pointed out that the hospital is currently recruiting a surgeon who wants to come to the county specifically because of its open, rural nature.

The next Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce monthly membership meeting will be May 22. The sponsor will be Mid-Florida Community Services, and their CEO, Mat Kline, will be the guest speaker that morning.

County Administrator Jeffrey Rogers asks President Couris a question during Wednesday's Q&A segment. [Photo by Austyn Szempruch]
County Administrator Jeffrey Rogers asks President Couris a question during Wednesday’s Q&A segment. [Photo by Austyn Szempruch]

Austyn Szempruch
Austyn Szempruch
Austyn Szempruch is a Graduate with Distinction, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. He's written numerous articles reporting on Florida Gators football, basketball, and soccer teams; the sports of rugby, basketball, professional baseball, hockey, and the NFL Draft. Prior to Hernando Sun he was a contributor to ESPN, Gainesville, FL and Gator Country Multimedia, Inc. in Gainesville, FL, and Stadium Gale.
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