Elaine C. Thompson, who has been the chief executive at Lakeland Regional Health since 2010,  is retiring at the end of next year and will be replaced by Danielle Drummond, currently the hospital’s executive vice president and chief operating officer.

The announcement was made this morning by Laura Hawley, chair of the LRH board.

President/CEO Thompson, 63, notified the board in February that she would retire on Dec. 31, 2020, when her current contract ends, the non-profit hospital said in a news release.

Thompson, who will be 65 when she retires, plans to continue living in Lakeland after her retirement, hospital spokeswoman Jennifer Audette said.

The board immediately began looking for a successor, leading to today’s announcement that Drummond, 42, would take over on Jan. 1, 2021.

Drummond joined LRH in 2013 as senior vice president and was promoted to COO in 2016. She oversees the medical center, physician group, Hollis Cancer Center, clinical joint ventures and affiliations, strategic planning and growth initiatives, and facility design and construction.

She was named last year as one of the nation’s top 25 healthcare COOs by Modern Healthcare magazine.

Her training includes a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from Washington University in St. Louis and a master’s in healthcare technologies management from Marquette University. Like Thompson, she is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

Prior to moving to Lakeland she served from 2008 to 2013 as v.p./administration at Lankenau Medical Center in Wynnewood, Pa., working for a time under Thompson, who was president there from 2006 to 2010.

Drummond also worked as a project manager at Main Line Health System and as an engineer and consultant for GE Healthcare.

Thompson earned a doctorate in biomedical science and engineering from Drexel University. Other degrees include master’s and bachelor’s degrees in physical therapy.

Thompson’s achievements at Lakeland Regional Health, according to the news release, include:

• Obtaining a favorable reconfirmation of fixed debt rating of A2 stable by Moody’s in 2018, despite operating in the 6th poorest suburban county in the nation.

• Improving the average age of plant from 14.3 years to 11.2 years, resulting in over 80% of patients being cared for in private rooms compared to 55% in 2017.

• Investing $350 million into key facility improvements including the Hollis Cancer Center expansion, creation of the Bannasch Institute for Advanced Rehabilitation Medicine, Grasslands Ambulatory Campus and the Carol Jenkins Barnett Pavilion for Women and Children.

• Operating the busiest single-site Emergency Department in the United States and demonstrated top 10% throughput efficiency ranking in the country since 2013.

• Strategically building and operating a multidisciplinary employed physician group of over 200 physicians and advanced care practitioners.

• Establishing the Institute for Safety Discovery and Standard Work in 2015, providing a framework for quality improvements in areas such as fall prevention and infection rates.

• Achieving numerous Best Place to Work Awards, including Gallup, Becker’s, Forbes and Florida Hospital Association.

Thompson’s compensation exceeded $1.4 million in the 2016-17 fiscal year, according to LRH tax filings. The tax filings list Drummond’s compensation that year as $384.751, according to Cause IQ.

Family info:

  • Thompson is married to Dave Thompson. They have three grown and married daughters, and she says she is “blessed with six grandchildren.”
  • Drummond’s husband, Jeff, is a Tampa insurance executive; they have two daughters.
Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center, with the new Carol Jenkins Barnett Pavilion for Women and Children in the foreground.

Drummond’s accomplishments, according to the news release, include:

  • Leading design and construction of the eight-story Carol Jenkins Barnett Pavilion for Women and Children
  • Facilitating the Clark & Daughtrey Medical Group transition, as well as clinical collaborations with Mayo Clinic and Nemours Children’s Health System.
  • Overseeing expansion of the Hollis Cancer Center.
  • Strategizing for growth of the physician group and ambulatory practices.

Lakeland Regional Health is Polk County’s largest medical facility. In the Tampa Bay region, it’s second in size only to Tampa General Hospital. According to listings published by Tampa Bay Business Journal last October, it had 849 licensed beds, 2017 net revenue of $677.39 million, an excess of $78.52 million, uncompensated care of $166.13 million, 40,486 admissions, 646 physicians and 4,123 employees.

Thompson told Becker’s Hospital Report last year that highlights of her tenure are the hospital fixing long waits in the massive emergency department and going from a financial deficit to a 4 percent operating margin.

“We are the safety net system for Polk County, one of the poorest suburban counties in the country. It feels good to do work that makes a difference for the health of the community, especially with an ED that sees 210,000 visitors per year,” she told the magazine.

The hospital received one star out of five in the most recent ratings by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Asked about the rating by Modern Healthcare, Thompson said the ratings penalize institutions with a high number of lower-socio-economic patients and Florida hospitals in general because the state did not expand Medicaid.

In response to the rating, the hospital plans to “fix readmissions and focus on a variety of areas, including continuum of care and access to quality care. The largest initiative we want to work on here is to become a teaching hospital,” Thompson told the magazine.

A challenge facing the hospital is the potential for greater competition after the Florida Legislature this spring eliminated the Certificate of Need process to approve new acute-care hospitals.


SEND CORRECTIONS, questions, feedback or news tips: newstips@lkldnow.com

Barry Friedman founded Lkldnow.com in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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