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Bayfront honors pioneering physician

Margie Manning

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Donna McRae, Leah McRae and Dr. Fred Guerrier at the unveiling of the plaque honoring Dr. Paul McRae.

Even as Bayfront Health St. Petersburg looks ahead to its future with a new owner, the hospital took time this week to look to its past and to honor a long-time and influential physician at the hospital.

The hospital commemorated the service of Dr. Paul McRae, who was the first Black chief of staff at Bayfront. A plaque dedicated to him will reside in the hall of the endoscopy unit.

McRae, who died in September 2019, was a St. Petersburg native who raised his own family here. He was a pioneer in the field of gastroenterology and very active in the community.

“Dr. Paul McRae was a trailblazing physician who made a transformative difference for St. Pete’s community. That difference was particularly impactful at Bayfront, where he served as the hospital’s first African American chief of staff,” said Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin. “In this role he was a fierce advocate for access, equity and empowerment for every patient fortunate enough to be served by him. His legacy will continue to serve our city for many years and will be remembered forever.”

Current and former chiefs of staff Dr. Kimberly Biss, Dr. Marc Reiskind and Dr. Trina Espinola

Several chiefs of staff at Bayfront were present for the ceremony, including Dr. Kimberly Bliss, the current chief of staff, and Dr. Trina Espinola and Dr. Marc Reiskind, who previously held that position.

Also in attendance were McRae’s wife, Donna McRae, and his daughter, Leah McRae, who is director of education and community for the city of St. Petersburg. Dr. Fred Guerrier, a good friend of McRae’s, helped facilitate the event.

Bayfront Health St. Petersburg, a 480-bed tertiary care center, is the oldest hospital in the city and historically served the poor as a nonprofit organization. The hospital was sold in 2013 and run by for-profit organizations until it was acquired by nonprofit Orlando Health on Sept. 30. New leaders at Bayfront have promised to build on the hospital’s legacy in the community.

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    Donna McRae

    December 20, 2020at12:26 pm

    Thank you for the thoughtful article. I am greatly humbled by the outpouring of love and respect given to my husband. He, by those who knew him, would be a little embarrassed by all the accolades given to him. I can actually visualize his response. Thank you again.

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