PLANT CITY — Winter Haven Hospital will become the 11th hospital in BayCare Health System at the end of the month.
Officials with the 527-bed hospital and BayCare announced Wednesday they are concluding a deal that had been in the works for a year. BayCare’s hospitals include St. Joseph’s in Tampa.
The consolidation takes place Aug. 30.
The independent Winter Haven Hospital has searched for years to find a not-for-profit health care partner as it struggled financially. The deal with BayCare brings long-term financial stability and cost savings, such as through volume purchasing, Winter Haven Hospital president and CEO Lance Anastasio said.
Both BayCare and Winter Haven Hospital cited the challenges of health care reform as a major factor in the deal.
As part of the consolidation, Steve Nierman, who has been at the helm of the 147-bed South Florida Baptist Hospital in Plant City since 2007, will become president of Winter Haven Hospital.
Anastasio is retiring after 44 years at East Polk County’s largest hospital but will stay around to help Nierman in the transition.
Anastasio said Winter Haven Hospital’s board and physicians were involved in Nierman’s selection.
“To a person, they believed he was the best person for the job,” he said.
Nierman, a popular and respected community leader in Plant City, led numerous expansions and renovations at South Florida Baptist.
Among other accomplishments during his tenure, he led the construction of the Evelyn & Batista Madonia, Sr. Heart and Vascular Center and the development of an interventional cardiology and peripheral endovascular program.
Nierman said he looks forward to the challenges of running a larger hospital, but leaves Plant City with mixed emotions.
“I have a lot of friends in Plant City. I’ll miss the people and the community,” he said.
Nierman, 45, was chief operating officer at Spring Hill Regional Hospital before moving to Plant City in 2007. He is an Air Force Academy graduate whose military career included an assignment to the 6th Medical Support Squadron at MacDill Air Force Base while in the Air Force Reserve. He left the Reserve in 2003 as a major.
His hospital administration career includes serving as chief operating officer at Tampa’s Memorial Hospital.
Along with South Florida Baptist, BayCare’s hospitals include Mease Countryside, Mease Dunedin, Morton Plant, Morton Plant North Bay, St. Anthony’s, St. Joseph’s, St. Joseph’s Children’s, St. Joseph’s Hospital-North, St. Joseph’s Women’s.