Winter Haven Hospital and BayCare Finalize Steps to Consolidate

August 07, 2013

Winter Haven, Fla. and Clearwater, Fla. – August 7, 2013—Winter Haven Hospital of Polk County and Tampa Bay area-based BayCare Health System have completed all of the steps needed to implement a planned consolidation, which goes into effect Aug. 30, 2013.

Today’s announcement follows months of due diligence and discussions about how the consolidation could help both organizations prepare for significant changes in U.S. health care.

“This period of mutual exploration confirmed the wisdom of selecting BayCare,” said Lance Anastasio, president and CEO of Winter Haven Hospital. “They have a clear vision for a future in which hospitals improve the health of their entire community, not just the patients who come through their doors. Winter Haven Hospital has had a longstanding commitment to serve the residents of its community, and the opportunities that BayCare provides for future enhancements of care in Polk County are very exciting.”

BayCare CEO Steve Mason concurred. “We expected our common culture to provide a strong foundation to build on, but it’s rewarding to see the collaborative spirit taking hold so quickly. The future of U.S. health care will require coordination of care across broad geography and diverse services. By working as one, we can realize cost efficiencies, coordinate care and share best practices.”

Hospital Selects New President

Anastasio announced his retirement last year, but committed to the board to remain until a consolidation was finalized, and help select his replacement.

Anastasio announced today that Steve Nierman is being appointed president of Winter Haven Hospital. Nierman comes from BayCare Health System, where he has served as president of South Florida Baptist Hospital, Plant City for six years.

“Lance Anastasio has provided visionary leadership for our hospital, culminating in our consolidation with BayCare,” said Mark Bostick, Board chairman of Winter Haven Hospital. “We plan to continue building on the excellent foundation Lance has built, and our board feels strongly that Steve is the very best person for this job.”

During his extraordinary 44-year tenure, Anastasio worked collaboratively to establish Winter Haven Hospital as a true community asset. His major accomplishments are a lengthy list that includes establishing the Bostick Heart Center, Cassidy Cancer Center, Regency Center for Women and Infants, and the Center for Urology and Robotics Institute. These are now considered centers of excellence in central Florida.

As president of South Florida Baptist Hospital, Nierman led numerous expansion and renovation efforts, and in a short time, brought to the Plant City community many services that previously were only available in bigger cities. Nierman led the construction of the Evelyn & Batista Madonia, Sr. Heart and Vascular Center and the development of a highly successful interventional cardiology and peripheral endovascular program. He developed the Orthopedic Joint Replacement and Neuro-Spine Surgery program and successfully recruited the necessary surgeons. He also started a minimally-invasive, robotic surgery program with colorectal, urologic and gynecologic surgeons.

Nierman is well-known in Plant City for his successes and community involvement. He plans to move with his family to Winter Haven. He will start his new position on Aug. 30.

Both Nierman and Anastasio share a commitment to excellence, and each have made great strides to improve the health of their respective communities.

Working on Cost Efficiencies

Together, BayCare and Winter Haven Hospital will build on the cost efficiencies each have already achieved, moving forward to realize further savings through volume purchasing and the sharing of back-office functions. There are currently 17 different teams, such as human resources, information services and marketing, managing the integration of existing BayCare Health System processes, policies and systems with the Winter Haven Hospital equivalents. These teams will orchestrate a smooth transition now and over the next three years.

“Winter Haven Hospital has much to offer in the areas of stroke, open heart, obstetrics and gynecology, and emergency services,” said Anastasio. “However, the consolidation also makes it possible to address other challenges such as retaining and recruiting primary care physicians.”

“I am greatly looking forward to the opportunity to use our common vision and culture to collaboratively develop best practice approaches to improving quality and care in the Winter Haven community,” said Nierman. “Health care is changing rapidly and our focus will be to meet those changes. Winter Haven is a great community and it will be a pleasure to become a part of the area.”

The Winter Haven Hospital Board of Trustees initiated the process of selecting a partner several years ago, studying several potential partners before selecting BayCare for formal discussions. In August of 2012, both organizations signed a letter of intent (LOI) to explore consolidation, followed by fact-finding due diligence until the definitive agreement was signed in April 2013.

About Winter Haven Hospital

Established in 1926, Winter Haven Hospital serves as the major medical center for east Polk County and the U.S. Highway 27/Ridge Corridor. The 527-bed hospital is a locally owned and operated not-for-profit organization. The hospital is fully accredited by the Joint Commission with more than 300 board-certified physicians on its medical staff in every major specialty. With more than 2,500 employees, Winter Haven Hospital is east Polk County’s largest private employer and has been recognized by Polk Works Workforce 2020 as one of the county’s best places to work. For more information, please visit

About BayCare Health System

BayCare Health System is a leading community-based health system in the Tampa Bay area. Composed of a network of 10 not-for-profit hospitals, outpatient facilities and services such as imaging, lab, behavioral health and home health care, BayCare provides expert medical care throughout a patient's lifetime. With more than 200 access points conveniently located throughout Tampa Bay, BayCare connects patients to a complete range of preventive, diagnostic and treatment services for any health care need. BayCare's family of hospitals are: 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, and South Florida Baptist. For more information, visit BayCare on the Web at