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Bayfront opens cardiovascular center

Margie Manning

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Cutting the ribbon for the Bayfront cardiovasular center were (left to rigth): Mayor Rick Kriseman; Joshua Moore, chief operating officer, Sharon Hayes, CEO; Dr. Peter Wassmer; Chris Steinocher, St. Pete Chamber.

Bayfront Health St. Petersburg leaders have opened a new cardiovascular center that will be home to nine physicians in the Bayfront Health Medical Group.

“This is the rebirth and resurgence of Bayfront as the premier cardiovascular facility in the county, bar none,” said Dr. Peter Wassmer, speaking for the medical group at a ribbon-cutting Tuesday afternoon. “We can do anything that needs to be done here, short of heart transplants, and we’re working on that.”

Bayfront, the largest hospital in St. Petersburg with 480 beds, is owned by Nashville-based Community Health Systems (NYSE: CYH), and is located on city-owned land that the hospital leases.

The $4.5 million cardiovascular center is opening a few months after Bayfront Health St. Petersburg cut ties with USF Health, which had five physicians on the Bayfront campus as part of a professional services agreement. Bayfront hired two of the doctors, both cardiologists, former interim CEO Joseph Mullany told the St. Petersburg City Council in March.

“We started a year ago recruiting several doctors to form this new group, and now we’re up to nine people,” Wassmer said. “We needed a space to grow, a space to be collaborative so that we could actually walk from one hall to another and have our patients see anybody from an interventional cardiologist to an electrophysiologist to a cardiac surgeon, all in one place. It’s a place where we could collaborate with each other and discuss how best to treat our patients. This is the place.”

The project brings both great jobs and great health care to St. Petersburg, said Chris Steinocher, president and CEO of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce. Mayor Rick Kriseman called it “a substantial investment in the community.”

“You don’t make that kind of investment unless you believe in the community, and that means you’re investing your heart and soul,” Kriseman said.

The heart center is one of a number of ongoing and recently completed projects at the hospital.

The hospital recently completed a $30 million expansion of the emergency room. It spent $10 million to renovate the neuroscience center. It also built a $10 million freestanding emergency department in Pinellas Park.

Earlier this month, the hospital named Sharon Hayes as CEO. The CEO’s job had been vacant for five months after the resignation of former CEO John McLain. Hayes, a veteran hospital leader, also was on hand for the cardiovascular center opening.

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