Familiar face takes over at Physicians Regional Medical Center

Joe Pinion,  the chief executive officer of Physicians Regional Medical Center

Joe Pinion, the chief executive officer of Physicians Regional Medical Center

Physicians Regional - Pine Ridge

6101 Pine Ridge Road, Naples, FL

Physicians Regional - Collier Boulevard

8300 Collier Boulevard, Naples, FL

— He remembers when Naples was a small town, when it didn’t take long to zip down in a car from Fort Myers to Naples.

He even worked for Health Management Associates when its corporate offices were still in Fort Myers, before the for-profit hospital company relocated to Naples in 1985.

Now, Joe Pinion, an HMA hospital administrator and former corporate executive, is back to take the reins of Physicians Regional Medical Center as the chief executive officer. The current CEO, Geoffrey Moebius, is retiring Dec. 31.

“I’m excited about the opportunity as well as being back in the community,” he said. “Geoff (Moebius) has done an outstanding job.”

Pinion, 63, has been on the job 10 days, meeting with the physicians and medical staff and wading into day-to-day operations while Moebius focuses on strategic planning. In due time, Pinion will decide where he wants to establish relationships with civic groups in the community.

“It’s always been my practice to be involved as much as a community would like me to be,” he said. “I’m always happy to go out to any of the groups to talk about health care.”

Pinion went to HMA in 1985 and became administrator of Highlands Medical Center in Sebring, which at the time was HMA’s seventh hospital acquisition. After a few years, he was promoted to corporate vice president of operations for HMA, from 1990 to 1994. From there, he served as senior vice president of operations until 1998 when he retired. By then, HMA had 33 hospitals, mostly in the southeastern United States.

He and his wife, Mary Frances, lived in Fort Myers during those corporate years where it was easier to be closer to Southwest Florida International Airport for the traveling he had to do. They kept their Fort Myers home when he was asked to come out of retirement in January 2008 to become chief executive officer of Central Mississippi Medical Center, a 429-bed hospital in Jackson, Miss.

“That is where I went to college and that is where I started my career in health care,” he said.

He was in Jackson 18 months when he was asked to come to Physicians Regional.

Pinion said, so far, it seems like he and Moebius have similar management styles, where priorities are relationships with the medical staff and finding efficiencies in operations but focus is on quality of care.

He met Dr. Allen Weiss, president and chief executive officer of the NCH Healthcare System at lunch last week, which included state Rep. Matt Hudson, R-Naples, and Holly Benson, secretary of the state Agency for Health Care Administration.

“He seems like a nice person. Obviously he’s had a lot of experience,” Weiss said. “I think he will be a nice fit for the community.”

Pinion said he’s always tried to work together with other hospitals in the community. Even though they are competitors, they usually share medical staffs. In Jackson, there are eight hospitals, with five of them owned by HMA.

“Bottom line is we are in the same business to provide health care and improve health care in the community,” he said.

On the subject of national health care reform, he said what needs to be addressed is reducing costs and finding ways to be more efficient on all fronts, from physicians, insurance companies, hospitals, Medicaid and Medicare. What’s not been touched in the debate, which he says is critical, is tort reform, which would lower a lot of costs all around. The bottom line is it is too early to say what will come out of the health reform negotiations in Congress, he said.

On a different bent, Pinion has stories he can share from earlier in his career when he was administrator of the Sherman Oaks Hospital and Burn Center in California in 1980. That was the same year comedian Richard Pryor suffered burns over 40 percent of his body from free-basing cocaine and stayed in the hospital for months. Pryor was wearing a polyester shirt at the time, which melted onto his skin from the neck down.

“He was a very sick person. He was wrapped up like a mummy,” Pinion said. One day a friend of Pryor’s said the comedian was mad because Pinion hadn’t visited him yet in his hospital room. After that, Pinion spent one hour a week visiting with Pryor.

One June day, the phone rang in his office and it was Johnny Carson, inquiring about getting cable in the hospital so Pryor could watch the Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran match in Montreal. Cable hadn’t been installed yet and needed to run a mile to the hospital.

“By the time of the fight, they had cable coming in to the hospital and through the window so Richard Pryor could see the fight,” he said. “There were neat little tidbits like that. We had a lot of celebrities because of all the plastic surgery we did. It was very hush-hush. They came in under assumed names.”

© 2009 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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