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Courtesy Alex Stafford

San Joaquin Community Hospital's new president and CEO, Doug Duffield.

Florida hospital executive Doug Duffield will take the top post at San Joaquin Community Hospital, as its new president and CEO starting July 15.

Duffield's hiring comes four months after former CEO Robert Beehler left the hospital for a corporate position with Adventist Health amid an ongoing Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services investigation that threatened San Joaquin's agreement to treat Medicare patients.

The investigation, paired with construction delays, held up the opening of The AIS Cancer Center at San Joaquin Community Hospital, which began seeing patients in April.

Duffield, 43 and the father of two girls, has worked as president and CEO of Florida Hospital Zephyrhills near Tampa for the last four years, according to a San Joaquin news release. He previously worked as vice president at Sonora Regional Medical Center, another Adventist Health hospital.

The chance to return to Adventist Health made the Bakersfield job appealing, Duffield said. But he had also been watching the hospital develop over the last decade through colleagues and friends Beehler and Jarrod McNaughton, the hospital's former vice president of marketing.

"The opportunity to come to a hospital that's grown so nicely and has such a broad set of services to serve the community was really the draw," Duffield said.

Duffield transitioned to health care following a career in the tech industry after he and his wife, Melanie Duffield, decided to spend the first year of their married life volunteering at an Adventist hospital in southern Africa.

Duffield's sincerity and an unannounced visit he and his wife made to Bakersfield to check out the hospital and the community before his interview impressed Chris Frank, a member of San Joaquin's governing and foundation boards and the hospital's interim vice president of marking.

"He's a very outgoing person that understands that a lot of his job is being in the community and out on the floors," Frank said. "He's not a behind-the-desk kind of person."

On their own dime, Duffield and his wife stayed at the Padre Hotel, dined on Basque food and drove to Lake Isabella. Duffield said Bakersfield's small-town feel in a city appealed to them.

"We found it to be a really neat place," he said.

Duffield is still serving as hospital CEO in Florida and will likely hit the ground in Bakersfield around July 29, he said. Frank said he is already taking part in weekly phone calls with Hal Chilton, the hospital's chief operating officer and Interim CEO.

During his tenure at Florida Hospital Zephyrhills, Duffield improved the hospital's consumer and physician satisfaction scores and reduced expenses, San Joaquin's news release said. The Florida hospital also undertook big projects, including expanding its emergency department, developing an orthopedic institute and adding a primary stroke center, under his leadership, Duffield said.

"My background is in the area of expanding services, expanding access, growth so I certainly hope to bring that skill set to Bakersfield," he said.

Asked what Duffield's pay will be, Rita Waterman, assistant vice president for Adventist Health Corporate Communication, wrote that "information regarding his salary is not available."

In 2011, San Joaquin Community Hospital's then-President and CEO Beehler earned $547,069 plus another $102,979 in compensation, according to the hospital's tax filings.

That same year, Duffield was paid $342,912 with another $74,708 in "other compensation," according to Florida Hospital Zephyrhills' tax returns.