By Kyle LoJacono
A month ago, Phil Minden thought he was leaving Pasco Regional Medical Center. Fast forward a few weeks, now he is the Dade City hospital’s CEO.
He first heard of the opening on March 28, when former CEO Gary Lang left to pursue other opportunities, according to hospital spokeswoman Susan Frimmel.
“I was out the door leaving to go work with another hospital,” Minden said. “I was excited the board wanted to keep me here. I love this community and I want to stay here.”
Minden, 33, is the youngest CEO for Pasco Regional, which opened in 1973. He was working as the chief operating officer.
Minden was born in Arkansas and earned a master’s degree in health care administration from the University of Oklahoma. He started working with Health Management Associations, Pasco Regional’s parent company, in 2004 with Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center in Missouri. Minden moved in 2006 to Sebastian River Medical Center in Sebastian and then to Pasco Regional in 2008.
“The area was completely new to me when I came to Pasco Regional,” Minden said. “I’d never even been to Tampa. It was actually shocking to see the topography and the rolling hills. It kind of reminds me of Arkansas. I feel at home here.”
Minden said the two things he is most proud of in his time with Pasco Regional is working to bring a new cardiac catheterization lab and, most recently, an expansion to triple its emergency department’s size.
“I want to be able to provide all the wonderful technology and services at Tampa General and larger facilities here,” Minden said. “We’ve made great improvements to our cardiac catheterization lab and we have other things planned for the future.”
Part of the future is getting accreditation as a chest pain center, which means patients start receiving treatment within 90 minutes of when they experience a heart attack or similar problem.
“Who wants to wait to get treatment?” Minden said. “It’s our obligation to make sure they’re seen as soon as possible. We want to make sure they have the best care, but we want to be considerate of their time.”
The average time a patient is at Pasco Regional is between 2-2.5 hours from when they are discharged or admitted to a hospital room. The national average is 3.5-4 hours.
“Imagine what we can do with more space for more patients,” Minden said. “There are going to be times when it’s going to be longer because a major case comes in. We do our best, and it’s a big part of what we believe in.”
The hospital is already an accredited stroke center, meaning people can start receiving treatment within an hour of a stroke beginning.
“We’ve identified certain areas of need in the community,” Minden said. “Through research we’ve looked at what to provide to best serve our residents. I encourage people to let us know what we can do better.
“The ER is a prime example of us listening to the community,” Minden continued. “They’ve asked for years that we renovate or expand the ER. It’s built to handle 10,000, but we see just less than 20,000 each year.”
Minden said the hospital sees patients from not just Dade City, but also Zephyrhills, Wesley Chapel and the other cities and towns in east Pasco County.
“The demographics of Dade City are changing,” Frimmel said. “Wesley Chapel is mainly families, Zephyrhills still has an older population, and Dade City used to be that way. We’re seeing younger people and more families in Dade City. So we’re caught between Wesley Chapel, Zephyrhills, Dade City and into Sumter County.”
The influx of retired people from the north each winter is still present, which creates a different set of challenges for a hospital.
“The biggest strain for us is in staffing,” Minden said. “We bring in temporary labor and other contingency plans every year so we can continue to offer the best care. We even have some seasonal nurses who come down with the influx and work a few months.”
Another challenge is the large number of hospitals in the Tampa Bay region.
“We want to build up this facility,” Minden said. “I think through renovations, expansion and hiring the right staff we can be the top choice. There are many healthcare options in Tampa Bay, and I want our community to think of us first and foremost of care.”
Minden serves on the Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and is a member of the Dade City Kiwanis Club. He plans to get involved with more community groups in the future, but he has not adopted one part of the culture.
Instead of cheering on the University of Florida Gators, University of South Florida Bulls or Florida State Seminoles, Minden is loyal to the team of his youth.
“I’m an Arkansas Razorbacks fan, so woo pig sooie,” Minden said. “We’ve got Tyler Wilson coming in at quarterback next year and we’ll be all right.”
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