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New chief executive leaving Bayonet Point for job in Virginia

Hospital board members say the departure is friendly and will not affect care.


© St. Petersburg Times, published April 24, 2001

Hospital board members say the departure is friendly and will not affect care.

HUDSON -- Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point will lose its second chief executive in one year -- just six months after he took the job.

William Downey on Monday said he plans to leave the 300-bed hospital in June to be executive vice president and administrator at Riverside Regional Medical Center in Newport News, Va., where he started his career.

Downey, 42, stressed that the move was not a reflection on Bayonet Point.

Leaving "was a difficult thing to do because of timing, but it's an opportunity I couldn't pass up," Downey said. "It's not about leaving Bayonet Point. There are just some longer-term career opportunities with Riverside down the road."

Downey came to Bayonet Point in October, one month after Don Griffin, the chief executive for 31/2 years, abruptly resigned.

HCA-The Healthcare Co., which owns Bayonet Point, will begin a new replacement search immediately, hospital officials said.

Dan Miller, president of HCA's West Florida Division, did not return calls seeking comment.

Board members reached Monday said Downey's departure did not reflect any unrest at the hospital.

"Bill was seen as a great addition to the hospital and he seemed to get along very well with the physicians," said Dr. Jorge Ayub, the hospital's chief of staff. The departure "does create a little insecurity among the physicians and general personnel may get some impression that there was a problem working with the administration, which I don't think there was."

Board member Tom Castriota, owner of Castriota Chevrolet, said that the departure's effects would be minimal, since other hospital staff remains.

"The care is not going to change at all," he said.

Dr. Joseph Pino, another board member, said he was surprised at the departure, but "the institution is bigger than any one person and there's still enough very good people around to make the transition pretty seamless.

"Now, it's the administration's job to get out there and meet with staff to assuage their fears and tell them their plans."

Downey came to Bayonet Point from Lewis-Gale Medical Center, an HCA hospital near Roanoke, Va., where he was chief executive for five years. Before that, Downey spent nine years at two Virginia hospitals owned by Riverside Health Systems. Riverside is a non-profit based in Newport News, which owns five hospitals, seven nursing homes and other outpatient centers.

- Jennifer Goldblatt covers business in Pasco County. She can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6229 or (800) 333-7505, ext. 6229.

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