Adam Rudd

Adam Rudd started his job as CEO of Largo Medical Center on April 1.

LARGO — Adam Rudd, the new CEO of Largo Medical Center, is in his 40s but he has the look of a man who has had little time to unpack.

Since starting his job April 1, he has met with nurses, hospital staff, doctors and community leaders — all of whom shared their opinions for improving the 40-year-old hospital.

Rudd, however, is familiar with hospitals in Pinellas County. As a rising Health Corporation of America (HCA) manager, the father of two oversaw HCA’s emergency room operations at the health care giant’s West Florida facilities. Now, a decade later, he’s back in the area after serving four years as head of HCA’s Southern Hills Medical Center in Las Vegas.

Treating patients has become more complicated, including in Largo, Rudd said.

“I was here 10 years ago and this is a totally different community than it was 10 years ago,” Rudd said April 10 in his new office at the hospital off West Bay Drive. “The patients, unfortunately, and it’s across the country, seem to be a lot sicker, they seem to be a little more complicated with the things that come along with them.”

Patients often suffer “comorbidity,” Rudd said, which is having two or more disorders or illnesses simultaneously. A man with a broken leg also has diabetes, for instance. Or an addicted patient also suffers from untreated bipolar disorder.

Hospitals such as Largo Medical Center increasingly involve other players in a patient’s treatment, he said, such as when the children of an elderly patient come to her bedside and realize they must now find in-home care or an assisted-living facility for the parent. If the children are from out of town, they don’t know local resources or who to talk to for the next step.

“Our nurses and clinical team have an unbelievable challenge to take care of not only the patient but the patient’s family that comes along with them,” Rudd said.

Making strides

Rudd comes aboard as the hospital seeks to compete more effectively in Tampa Bay’s crowded health care market, which includes numerous hospitals and a legion of storefront acute care/surgical centers.

Rudd inherits several growth projects begun under former CEO Tony Degina, who resigned in January and is reportedly serving as interim CEO of an Indiana hospital.

On the West Bay campus, work has been underway on an 18,000-square-foot vertical addition to the fifth floor resulting in an additional 26 patient beds. Also, renovations wrapped up recently on an observation unit on the second floor creating 3,000 square feet for a four-bed critical-care unit for the hospital’s Transplant Institute.

The hospital continues to work toward its first heart transplant in the next several months.

“We are taking steps to have a heart transplant center here and we went through certification for the ventricular assisted device last week,” Rudd said. “We’re trying to identify our first patient now.”

The device is a pump that’s implanted into the arteries near the heart that helps the heart pump blood on its own as a patient awaits a heart transplant. It can be installed permanently in patients who face heart failure or aren’t good candidates for a heart transplant.

“That and other certifications are kind of Step 1 to building a quality transplant program in cardiac,” Rudd said.

“We have done more than 20 kidney and liver transplants (or a combination of those) in 2019, and we’re very good at that.”

But, Rudd said, “We’re more than a transplant program. A lot more patients have joint replacement needs or general surgery needs, or some sort of spine needs. We need to be laser-focused on other community needs, too, such as psychiatric needs and inpatient rehabilitation services.”

Room for improvement

Hospital administrators must ensure their facilities comply with state and federal standards of care and health care regulations at every step. Hospitals hire consultants to survey patients to determine satisfaction with food, noise level, medication, and other criteria.

U.S. News and World Report ranked Largo Medical Center “high performing” in its treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), “below average” in its performance of hip replacement and “average” in the performing of other surgeries and procedures. Patients gave the hospital 3 out of 5 stars in “satisfaction with the hospital overall.”

In February, the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services gave Largo Medical Center its lowest rating, 1 out of 5 stars. The most common overall hospital rating is 3 stars, with only 282 other hospitals in the nation earning the low rating, CMS’s Hospital Compare website states.

So, what does Rudd — who said he is very competitive — want doctors to know about his leadership and the future of the hospital?

“We will listen to physician concerns to make sure Largo Medical Center is a better place for patients.

“Doctors choose who they’re going to create a partnership with, and my job is to create an environment so our doctors have the best experience possible,” said Rudd, who holds a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Colorado.

Is this something that’s not quite happening to the level he would like?

“Don’t know, six days in,” he said.

“What I am seeing is we have this huge group of unbelievably talented physicians that are already committed to the next steps at Largo. We can build and do things differently with their direction and commitment that will change how the community receives their health care.”