Retiring president reflects on years with Baptist Beaches


After 28 years with Baptist Health and more than a decade as president for Baptist Beaches, Joe Mitrick, FACHE, retired on Jan. 9. He departs a highly respected hospital that during his tenure earned recognition from several notable sources.

Baptist Beaches was named a World’s Best Hospital by Newsweek, received a 5-star rating from the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Pinnacle of Excellence award for patient satisfaction from Press Ganey, and earned an A in patient safety for at least eight consecutive years from the Leapfrog Group.

But what Mitrick is most proud of is the dedication of the hospital’s team to serve the community well and provide the best possible care.

“It takes every employee, it takes every physician, doing their job,” he said. “Everyone has an important role.”

He credits the hospital’s culture, its mission and values, as well as the leadership demonstrated by the board of directors and the Baptist Health administration.

Mitrick brought his family to Jacksonville in 1993 after earning undergraduate degrees from Kent State and his Master’s from Ohio State and then holding executive positions at a hospital in Canton, Ohio, and then Fairview General Hospital, which was affiliated with the Cleveland Clinic.

These experiences laid the foundation for his career.

“I think what I learned early on is that hospitals are like miniature cities,” he said. “Every position in the hospital is an important role to its success. Success is really measured by how well patients are taken care of. Teamwork is really the key to that success.”

Mitrick joined Baptist in 1995 and spent 20 of the next 28 years at Baptist Beaches. From 2011 on he served as president of transitional care for Baptist Health. In this role, he helped to ensure that patients requiring ongoing care or assistance following discharge got the support they needed. He and his team worked with post-acute-care providers to ensure continuity of care.

Mitrick has seen the advance of technology — such as robotics — and increased specialization over his career.

“I guess probably the biggest advance in surgery that I’ve seen is so much of it is done laparoscopically,” he said.

This approach involves minimally invasive procedures that don’t disrupt other organs or tissues.

“Patients recover faster,” said Mitrick.

He has also witnessed Baptist Health’s growth over the years. It now has six hospitals, a cancer center, four satellite emergency departments and 50 primary care offices.

Mitrick cited the importance of donors to the success of the hospital, and said a $33 million surgery department opened three years ago would not have been achievable without the generosity of donors.

He also expressed admiration for the hard work of health care workers and support of local clergy, restaurants and the community during the pandemic.

Mitrick, who has been involved with local nonprofits during his career, said he will continue to be involved following his retirement.

It’s clear that, looking back over his years with Baptist, he is satisfied by what he sees.

“It’s great to work at a place that you love,” he said. “That organization is really special to me. We just have the most dedicated team members and physicians and members of the auxiliary. They all work together well and made my job as the hospital president a joy.”