When Phil Minden came to Polk County in January 2013 to oversee the operations of Bartow Regional Medical Center, he didn’t need to be convinced that the hospital should partner with the Central Florida Development Council.

The convincing actually came during his previous post as an administrator at Pasco Regional Medical Center in Dade City. Pasco Regional was a member of the Pasco Economic Development Council, and Minden was on the Pasco EDC board of directors.

“In Pasco, I saw the positives of being involved with the EDC and helping to improve the county’s economic position,” Minden says. “It was an eye-opening experience for me. The EDC was offering micro loans and start-up business incubators, and its political influence was enormous.”

Bartow Regional became an investor-partner with the Central Florida Development Council (CFDC) shortly after Minden arrived as the hospital’s new chief executive officer.

“The investment is important from the standpoint of economic development and the visibility of the hospital,” Minden says. “We wanted to get involved in any way, shape and form we could.”

Minden says Bartow Regional (BRMC) is a community hospital that wants to support the community at every possible opportunity.

“We support efforts to bring in jobs and expand businesses. That’s what we want to do,” he says. “We play a role in that — a big role. We’re a large employer here ourselves.”

BRMC is one of more than 50 businesses, organizations, communities and educational institutions that have agreed to invest financially with the CFDC and help it transition from a public-private agency to a private operation.

“With the CFDC, you have several organizations working together toward the same cause,” Minden says. “You translate that down to having a central voice for county improvement and for the progress we’re all trying to make.”

Bartow Regional Medical Center is a 72-bed acute-care medical facility serving south Lakeland, Bartow, Fort Meade, Mulberry, rural south Polk County, and northern Hardee County. BRMC is one of 26 Florida hospitals owned by Community Health Systems Inc. (CHS), a company based in Franklin, Tenn. CHS affiliates own, operate or lease 199 hospitals in 29 states, from Alaska to Florida. In Polk County, CHS also owns Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center in Haines City (another CFDC investor) and Lake Wales Medical Center.

BRMC can trace is roots back to 1925, when Bartow Memorial Hospital was opened by the city of Bartow on East Main Street. Today, BRMC operates from facilities completed in December 1999 on Osprey Boulevard, located north of Bartow off U.S. Highway 98.

Physicians and healthcare professionals at BRMC provide a variety of services, including surgical services, diagnostic/ancillary services, respiratory care, laboratory services, and wound care. The hospital is equipped with four surgery suites and two gastroenterology suites. The hospital’s Emergency Services Department is staffed with board-certified emergency physicians and specially trained nurses to treat all types of emergency situations — 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Minden came to Bartow following duties as chief operating officer and then as chief executive officer of Pasco Regional Medical Center (now Bayfront Health Dade City). He says a lot of his focus so far at BRMC has been on the hospital’s power plant and utilities — “things not visible to the public but very important to hospital operations.” He says the hospital has plans to purchase about $1 million worth of diagnostic technology to replace older equipment.

Minden says that he and his staff also have worked hard to improve hospital service “outcomes,” specifically patient satisfaction and employee satisfaction scores. He says the data provides evidence of significant success in both of those areas.

In surveys taken by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), using HCAHPS (the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems), the in-patient satisfaction score for BRMC rose from 57 for the second quarter of 2014 to 79.3 for the second quarter of 2015.

“That’s the highest it’s been since I’ve been here,” Minden says, adding that the HCAHPS scoring is an indication of patients’ willingness to recommend the hospital.

For comparison, the average score in HCAHPS surveys nationally for the fourth quarter of 2014 was 71.8, Minden says.

“We’ve implemented a lot of new programs and really focused on improving the patient experience here,” he says.

Among the over 400 BRMC employees, Minden says, the overall job satisfaction score has risen from 69 percent to 80 percent.

“I’m pleased with the progress we’ve made,” he said. “I’m pleased with the things we’re doing. This improves the reputation of the hospital, and that drives growth.”

Minden says the purpose of the hospital is straightforward.

“We’re committed to the community, and we’re here to take care of the community.”