Don Breeding is the CEO of Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center in Haines City.
HAINES CITY – Don Breeding thinks there couldn’t be a more exciting time to be in the field of medicine.
It helps as well to be working at a fast-growing hospital that just got national recognition. Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center just got named the top-ranking hospital in the Lakeland/Winter Haven metropolitan area in U.S. News Media & World Report’s 2011-2012 Best Hospitals rankings, which Breeding, the hospital’s new CEO, said is in recognition of the good work they’re doing.
“We’re making a difference,” he said.
On Tuesday, Breeding – who had previously served as the hospital’s chief nursing officer — was named the new CEO. In accepting the new position, Breeding said he was bringing more than 30 years of practical and hospital-based administration and nursing experience to the job, and added that his mission would continue to ensure high quality patient care.
“I’m very happy and honored to have been chosen for this position,” Breeding said.
He first joined Health Management Associates, Heart of Florida’s parent company, in November 2008 as the CNO at Heart of Florida hospital. He had previously worked at Johnson City Medical Center in Johnson City, Tennessee and in Wuesthoff Health Systems in Rockledge, Florida.
Breeding said he was excited to be taking over the reigns of a hospital that continues to expand.
“We’re opening up a fifth floor next year that will include a women and children’s center,” he said, adding that it will also include a robotics program for women.
“We have a lot of plans to continue doing that,” he said. “It involves the kind of advanced procedures that many places are doing.”
Breeding had been the hospital’s interim CEO, and in accepting this position, pledged that “My focus has been and will continue to be on driving quality patient care by involving our medical staff and our associates in the decisions that shape our hospital. This is a key to our future growth and success.”
Representing a part of Central Florida that’s experienced strong population growth has also been a good challenge for them, Breeding said.
“It’s a very exciting time for us,” he said.
Heart of Florida also got some national attention when it made the list of U.S. News’ best hospitals by area rankings, which have been published annually by by magazine for the past 22 years. The latest rankings showcase 720 hospitals out of 5,000 nationwide, and each one is ranked in at least one medical specialty or by metro area.
“These are hospitals we call ‘high performers.’ They are fully capable of giving most patients first-rate care, even if they have serious conditions or need demanding procedures,” said Avery Comarow, U.S. News’ health rankings editor, in a news release. “Almost every major metro area has at least one of these hospitals.”
The rankings cover 16 medical specialties and all 94 metro areas that have at least 500,000 residents and at least one hospital that performed well enough to be ranked.
“This is the first time U.S. News and World Report has expanded its ranking to include more areas than they had in the past,” said Linda Vendl, the director of marketing at Heart of Florida hospital. “We’ve been accredited nationally and received other national recognition, but this is the first time we got recognition this kind of ranking from U.S. News and World Report.”
Breeding said this new ranking reflects the hospital’s ongoing commitment to its patients.
“We’re trying to see everyone we can,” he said. “It’s about doing the job the right way, then setting up goals for the future.”
Breeding said the hospital’s physicians and associates “work hard to provide outstanding care to Central Florida residents,” and that’s reflected in the U.S. News ranking.
“We’re very pleased,” he said. “This is about our accountability to ourselves.”

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