Bayfront Medical Center finds a partner 

Officials say a proposed merger will benefit the hospital and the community, but some aren’t so sure.

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Bayfront’s Dr. David Weiland said there are exciting new developments coming, such as electronic recordkeeping and cloud computing, which will allow for cost savings “in ways we’ve never seen.” He referred to an uninsured person who goes to an emergency room at one hospital, then goes to a second or third hospital ER in future weeks and receives the same treatment. Weiland said streamlining in the health care industry will prevent that duplication.

John Mandujano, who does I.T. work for health care providers in the Tampa Bay area, said smartphone apps could monitor things like blood pressure, allowing people to be more proactive in taking care of themselves.

Part of the proposed Bayfront partnership is an alliance with Shands HealthCare, the Gainesville-based facility long considered the premier academic teaching hospital in the state. The announcement of that alliance angered USF Health’s Dr. Steven Klasko, who was hoping they could partner with Bayfront on an education component. Klasko said the deal “fragments care for the Tampa Bay community,” and adversely affects USF Health’s future. (USF health officials did not make themselves available for comment for this story.)

Bayfront officials were hoping to have a final agreement ready for City Councilmembers on Feb. 7, but that increasingly looks questionable. At the Council’s request, another workshop will be held to discuss the fine print on Jan. 31.

Councilman Steve Kornell said he needs at least a full week to read and absorb the material. If that’s not granted, Kornell said he won’t be able to support the proposal. “I need to read it, live with it, study it, evaluate it before I can say I’m going to support it,” he said, adding that the plan sounds great, but he needs to “Trust but verify,” quoting Ronald Reagan’s famed admonition to Mikhail Gorbachev in the mid-1980s.

Charlie Gerdes agreed. “Thirty years from now, most of us sitting around here today won’t be around, and it needs to be something that everybody can read and say, ‘this is what they intended.’ So hopefully that’s what we’ll get to look at.”

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