March 24, 2018


Healthy Competition

A decade ago, two non-profit hospitals in a small market got two new CEOs ... and reshaped healthcare in northwest Florida.

Charlotte Crane | 12/1/2006

Sacred Heart Health System

Opened: 1915.
Owner: Daughters of Charity; member of Ascension Health, the nation’s largest Catholic, non-profit hospital system.
Employees: 4,800.
Owns or operates: Two hospitals in Pensacola and South Walton County, plus Women’s & Children’s Hospital; Sacred Heart HomeCare regional home health agency in Alabama and Florida; two elder-care residences; five rehabilitation centers; medical parks in Pensacola and Pace; a physicians group with 35 offices from Foley, Ala., to Panama City Beach. Planned for 2008 opening: A hospital at Port St. Joe in Gulf County.
Partners with: Nemours Children’s Clinic; Methodist Homes for the Aging; Florida State University College of Medicine; St. Joe Co.
Affiliated with: M.D. Anderson Physicians Network.
Award: National Research Corp. annual Consumer Choice Award since 1996.
Healthcare collaboration: Jointly funds Escambia Community Clinics with Baptist Health Care and the county.

Greater Benefits
Growth of the two healthcare systems has been a catalyst for importing dollars, patients, jobs and new technology into northwest Florida, say their executives. "We concluded 10 years ago that this region would grow, and if we helped to create a first-class health industry that it would become an engine of economic growth for the region,'' says Sacred Heart Executive Vice President Peter Heckathorn. Since then, Sacred Heart has added 2,000 employees and doubled revenue.

Baptist's re-engineering, besides providing the community payoff of happier patients and employees, has enabled the organization to move into new ventures, like the Andrews Institute, that dovetail with efforts of economic developers.

Nor have primary missions gone unserved: Combined, the two have boosted their community charitable care to more than $50 million.

"These are charitable hospitals, and for them to serve their mission, they have to make money,'' says Robin Herr, a former Baptist board member and CEO of a 600- physician network across west Florida.

"Thank God for competition,'' says Herr. "That's what drove them.''

Tags: Healthcare, Northwest

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