From testing and patient care to vaccines, two Florida Keys hospitals within the Baptist Health South Florida system remain at the forefront of an ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

Add in construction of a new Fishermen’s Community Hospital in Marathon and the entrance of a new chief executive officer, and plenty of activity is unfolding at Mariners and Fishermen’s hospitals. 

The departure of the hospitals’ longtime leader, Rick Freeburg, left Baptist searching for a successor to lead the two Keys hospitals. Following a search, in came Drew Grossman as the next chief executive officer on Feb. 25.

For the past month, Grossman has spent mornings visiting staff inside the hospital in Marathon and the labs and rooms at Mariners. Between all the warm welcomes and familiarizing himself with staff, Grossman said the move to Baptist’s hospitals in the Keys is one of the better transitions he’s experienced in his 23 years in the industry. 

“What’s most impressive is the Fishermen’s crew,” he said. “Just to the fact that they’ve been operating in a smaller, modular unit ever since the devastation of the hospital (from Irma). We’re on the cusp of being in a great, new facility.” 

Grossman is no stranger to the region, having served in leadership positions at Cleveland Clinic in Weston and Parkway Medical Center in North Miami Beach, which is also where he completed his administrative residency. He also served as CEO of Broward Health Coral Springs and Salah Foundation Children’s Hospital.

He was CEO at St. Mary’s Medical Center in Blue Springs, Missouri, before taking the top position at Mariners and Fishermen’s hospitals. Married with two children, Grossman is in the middle of purchasing a home in the Islamorada area. 

“What I really like is it’s Florida, it’s home and it’s where my friends and family are,” he said. “The Keys are just a special place the way I look at it. I got accustomed to it pretty quickly just by the fact I was living up in the other counties and coming down here to spend a long weekend.”

In his time with various hospital networks, Grossman said his vision always centered around “compassionate and quality care.” Carrying that to the Keys, Grossman said, it’s not always about how nice the facility looks from outside. It’s the care patients experience inside. 

Grossman said he’s always asking patients about their care as he makes his rounds through the hospitals. He said he hasn’t come across an unsatisfied customer yet. 

“These will be known as top-notch hospitals,” he said. “I’m all about creating a process here that we all know how to do it right from start to finish. These are our patients and one of our greatest assets. But one of the other top priorities is our staff.”

One of the challenges Grossman is set to confront is recruitment and retention of nurses and specialists. Grossman, who was away from Florida for two years, said he’s seen a dramatic change in the cost of living. Ensuring competitive salaries will be a key in bringing staff and specialists to work and live in the Keys. 

“It’s good that they (specialists and physicians) come down from other Baptist facilities a day, two or three days, but I’d like to see people get recruited,” he said. “That’ll be one of the bigger challenges, but I know it takes time and we’ll get there.”

While dedicated to patients, Grossman also spends time serving the community. He’s been on several boards, including the Blue Springs Economic Development Council. He was also chair of the Broward County March of Dimes and held board positions at Coral Springs and Parkland chambers of commerce. Grossman said he’s looking to get involved in the Keys community and visit various organizations to speak. 

“That is the job of the CEO, not just the logistics and running of your facilities. It’s to really understand who your community members are and reaching out and making sure people understand we are here to help,” he said. 

As for the pandemic, Grossman said Baptist has handled everything from care and vaccinations at a high level.

“They’ve done nothing but adhere to the state protocols for the logistics, making sure they have the right amount of vials and making sure the sites had the assistance of nurses and those who are approved to administer a vaccination,” he said. “Living in South Florida and the Keys, people should be proud and excited that they’ve got Baptist in their backyard.”

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