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Hospital resignations won’t slow Innovation District

Margie Manning

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St. Pete Innovation District

The resignations of the CEOs of two leading members of the St. Pete Innovation District are not expected to hinder growth of the area.

John McLain, CEO of Bayfront Health St. Petersburg, resigned effective Feb. 28, about two months after Dr. Jonathan Ellen stepped down as president and CEO of Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.

Ellen was board president of the Innovation District, while McLain was board secretary.

Alison Barlow, executive director, St. Pete Innovation District

While there are some tactical issues to address — such as filling McLain’s board spot — “Overall, it hasn’t slowed us down,” said Alison Barlow, executive director of the district.

“We’re fortunate in that we have a good strong group of organizations. When one organization is in the midst of a change, the others have been jumping in,” said Barlow, who has been executive director since mid-2017. “If these things had happened earlier in my tenure, they might have had more impact.”

The Innovation District is a roughly 3-square-mile area south of downtown St. Petersburg that’s anchored by major institutions including Bayfront, Johns Hopkins All Children’s and University of South Florida St. Petersburg, as well as The Poynter Institute, Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg and others.

It’s home to thousands of workers and holds promise for attracting more high-skill talent and high-wage jobs.

But all three major anchors have been in a state of uncertainty. Johns Hopkins All Children’s was cited for several deficiencies by state and national regulators and is fighting to keep its funding status, submitting a corrective action plan Sunday, according to Becker’s Hospital Review.

USF St. Pete hopes to maintain some autonomy as a “branch campus,” as plans to merge USF’s three campuses move forward.

John McClain

McLain’s resignation, announced late Wednesday along with the resignation of Pam Modisett, chief financial officer at Bayfront, is the most recent event. A statement from Bayfront did not say why they resigned, but the hospital said it was grateful to both for their service.

“During John’s tenure, the hospital expanded access points and services to meet community need – recruiting more than 10 new providers; opening a free-standing emergency department in Pinellas Park and new locations for primary care physicians; and overseeing phase one of the hospital’s emergency department expansion,” the statement said.

Joe Mullany, Bayfront Health Regional president and CEO, will serve as interim CEO until a replacement is appointed. A search to identify a permanent CEO and CFO will begin immediately, the hospital said.

Mullany has been “loosely involved,” with the Innovation District, Barlow said. She expects Bayfront to remain involved in the Innovation Scholars program, which will give incoming freshmen at USF St. Pete a chance to do some job shadowing.

She’s also scheduled to meet next week with Tom Kmetz, the newly appointed interim president at Johns Hopkins All Children’s.

“We always know there will be transitions and there’s been a lot lately,” Barlow said. “The important thing is to stay focused on the projects we have going on.”

Separately, McLain was elected vice chairman of the St. Petersburg Area Economic Development board of directors just one week ago.

“Our investors are typically a company and the recognition of the investment therefore isn’t tied to an individual,” said J.P. DuBuque, president of the EDC. “So Bayfront will continue to be an investor. We will work with the team there to identify the appropriate representative. We will work internally to address our slate of officers.”

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