All posts by Cory Skeates


LRH CEO Named to Becker’s Hospital Review ‘183 Nonprofit Hospital and Health System CEOs to Know’ For Sixth Consecutive Year

Lakeland Regional Health President and Chief Executive Officer, Elaine C. Thompson, PhD, FACHE, is named to the Becker’s Hospital Review “183 Nonprofit Hospital and Health System CEOs to Know” for the sixth consecutive year.

Per Becker’s Hospital Review, “The men and women on this list lead some of the largest and most successful nonprofit healthcare organizations in the country.”

Dr. Thompson joins prestigious company this year including the CEOs of Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins Medicine, Temple University Health System, New York-Presbyterian, NYU Langone Medical Center, Wake Forest University, University of Pennsylvania Health System and Lakeland Regional Health’s affiliate, Nemours Children’s Health System.

“We are deeply blessed to have Dr. Thompson leading Lakeland Regional Health’s work delivering nationally recognized healthcare to the patients and families we serve. Her visionary leadership makes an outstanding impact on our organization’s ability to advance the future of healthcare for our community,” said Danielle Drummond, MS, FACHE, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Lakeland Regional Health.

During Dr. Thompson’s tenure at Lakeland Regional Health, affiliations were formed with Mayo Clinic Care Network, USF Health, Nemours Children’s Health System and Orlando Health to provide expanded high quality healthcare services, not just at the 849-bed Medical Center, but throughout the region, through substantial growth in physician practices and ambulatory settings. In addition to leading the LRH organization, she assumes regional system responsibilities for the Orlando Health system.

Dr. Thompson, together with her leadership team, initiated a performance improvement effort resulting in a redesigned Emergency Department facility and workflow. These improvements reduced wait times and walkouts, prompting national and international attention from other healthcare systems interested in learning about and applying the successful model in use at LRH.

Dr. Thompson is a tireless advocate for the patients and families served by LRH, spearheading the development of the eight-story Carol Jenkins Barnett Pavilion for Women and Children, the largest expansion in the history of Lakeland Regional Health’s Medical Center. Dr. Thompson shares her insights on numerous community, professional, and corporate boards that reflect both her professional and personal interests and is a Director for the Florida Hospital Association.

For a complete list of Becker’s Hospital Review “183 Nonprofit Hospital and Health System CEOs to Know”, visit



Noted local attorney Bob Puterbaugh will be honored by Florida Southern College for his distinguished service to the community with an honorary degree at the college’s winter commencement ceremony on December 16.

Mr. Puterbaugh, a longtime partner in the firm of Peterson & Myers, P.A., will be honored with the degree of doctor of humane letters during the commencement ceremony for undergraduate students at 10:30 a.m. in Branscomb Auditorium.

Mr. Puterbaugh has served for many years as FSC’s legal counsel and also on its Board of Trustees. He is well known for his pro bono work and as an expert in the field of healthcare law, serving as senior counsel to the board of directors of Lakeland Regional Health Center. He also has been a vigorous supporter of the arts in Lakeland, especially the Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College, where he is a past president.

“Mr. Puterbaugh has made an incredibly positive impact on Florida Southern College through his wise counsel throughout the institution,” said President Anne Kerr. “His wisdom, expertise, and sincere interest in superb education have resulted in many positive growth outcomes for Florida Southern. His professional success and important civic leadership are also major advantages for our entire community. We are privileged to recognize him at our commencement ceremony by awarding the well-deserved honorary doctorate.”

At commencement, the college will confer approximately 124 undergraduate degrees and approximately 92 graduate degrees. Of the graduate degrees, five will be doctoral degrees granted by the School of Education.

Due to the continued growth of its graduate program, FSC will for the first time hold a separate ceremony for its graduate students, which will take place at 2:30 p.m., also in Branscomb.

The guest speaker at both ceremonies will be architect Jeff Baker of the firm Mesick Cohen Wilson Baker of Albany, N.Y. Mr. Baker has been the architect for several projects involving the college’s collection of Frank Lloyd Wright structures, including the 2008 restoration of the Water Dome and the Theatre-in-the-Round. He also designed the college’s new admissions building, currently under construction along Lake Hollingsworth Drive.

During the morning ceremony, the college will confer the President’s Scholar medal upon one of its graduating seniors. The medal honors a graduate whose academic standing is in the top 1 percent, who exemplifies the values of the College, and who has a demonstrated commitment to scholarship, student leadership and service.

At each commencement, a Senior Speaker, representing the senior class, addresses the convocation. This year the Senior Speaker will be Gabriella Scoleri from Ocoee, Fla., who is graduating summa cum laude with a BFA in Musical Theatre.


Polk State College To Celebrate 117th Commencement Ceremony Dec. 14

Polk State College’s 117th commencement ceremony will take place Thursday, Dec. 14, at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland and it will be President Angela Garcia Falconetti’s first.

Falconetti, along with nearly 500 graduating students, are eagerly awaiting the upcoming event.

“I am highly anticipating commencement as it is the culmination of everything we do here at Polk State College,” Falconetti said. “Each student is a testament to the institution’s ability to provide access to affordable, quality higher education to our community, and I could not be more proud of our graduating class.”

A total of 1,157 students qualify to march in the upcoming commencement ceremony. More than 90 percent of those are Polk County residents.

Here’s a more detailed look at Polk State’s 117th graduating class:

  • 270 students will receive degrees from one of Polk State’s baccalaureate programs:
  • 166 will receive the Bachelor of Applied Science in Supervision and Management degree
  • 64 students will receive the Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree
  • 33 will receive the Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice degree
  • 7 will receive the Bachelor of Science in Aerospace degree
  • 632 students will receive the Associate in Arts degree, which is fully transferable to any institution within the State University System.
  • 254 students will receive the Associate in Science degree, which prepares students to directly go into the workforce in fields including nursing, engineering technology, and diagnostic medical sonography.
  • 19 students will graduate Summa Cum Laude with a grade-point average (GPA) of 3.9 or greater; 40 will graduate Magna Cum Laude with a GPA between 3.75 and 3.89; and 160 will graduate Cum Laude with a GPA between 3.5 and 3.74.
  • 9 students will graduate with a 4.0 GPA.
  • 3 students will receive the College’s Honors Program distinction on their diplomas: Cielo Perez, Brianna Mundell, and Leticia Hernandez. These students have completed a minimum of 18 credit hours in courses with Honors Program designation and achieved a grade-point average of 3.2 or greater.
  • The youngest graduate is 17 and the oldest is 63.
  • In addition to Florida, there are graduates from Alabama, California, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, New York, and Ohio.

Nearly 500 students will participate in the upcoming commencement ceremony, which will start at 6:30 p.m. at the RP Funding Center located at 701 W. Lime St.

The ceremony will feature remarks by Polk State District Board of Trustee Cindy Hartley Ross, who will also receive the College’s Distinguished Alumnus Award. She received her Associate in Arts degree from Polk State in 1979 and studied Special Education at Troy State University.  Gov. Rick Scott reappointed Ross to serve on the Polk State District Board of Trustees in 2015, after she served for 12 consecutive years from 1999 to 2011. During that time, she served as chair and vice chair. She has also served on the Polk State College Foundation Board of Directors, as president of the Polk State Alumni Association, and has represented the College at
the state and national levels in trustee-related organizations.

Ross’s involvement with the Polk State College Foundation began in 1999 when she
encouraged the Republican Women’s Club to endow a scholarship for students. She has since been instrumental in the creation of additional scholarships that continue to transform the lives of students through the gift of education.

Ross has been married to her husband, U.S. Congressman Dennis Ross, since 1983. Their two adult children, Shane and Travis, are both Polk State alumni, having graduated in 2012 and 2014, respectively. Additionally, more than 15 members of Ross’s extended family have graduated from Polk State.


Members on the Move – Henkelman Construction, Inc.

Henkelman Construction, Inc. is very pleased to announce the addition of Christopher Lutton to our firm.  Christopher will join our team of Project Managers, specializing in Health Care facilities.  Christopher received his Bachelor of Building Construction with Honors from the University of Florida. Forty years of experience have given Christopher an appreciation for both sides of a contract, serving in the past as both an owner’s representative and as a representative in the arena of Construction Management.   His insight and experience is an asset to our team of professionals.



The Lakeland City Commission voted today to keep the electric fuel charge the same for Lakeland Electric customers for the next fiscal quarter (January/February/March 2018). After listening to a presentation at the Monday, December 4th Utility Committee meeting, staff recommended holding the fuel charge at its current rate based on 12-month fuel forecasts in both the natural gas and coal markets, and due to a surplus of funds in the fuel rate reserve.

The fuel charge will remain 3.875¢ per kilowatt hour (kWh). Multiplying that charge by 1,000 kWh, which is typically the minimum a residential home utilizes in a month, the cost equals $38.75 per 1,000 kWh for fuel.

Maintaining the fuel charge at its current rate during the winter months will help our customers keep their electric costs low. In fact, by holding the fuel charge at its current rate, Lakeland Electric will continue to have some of the lowest electric rates in the state. As with most electric utilities that generate their own power, the cost of fuel is directly passed onto the customers. This makes it an important part of Lakeland Electric’s ever ongoing effort to keep our customer’s electric costs low.

Residential Rates Based on 1,000 kWh Current Rates – Effective Jan, 2018
Base Charge* (see below for breakdown of charges) $63.02 $63.02
Fuel Charge              $38.75 $38.75
TOTAL: $101.77 $101.77


*Base Rate
Customer Charge $  9.50/month
Energy & Smart Grid charges $50.99/1000 kWh
Environmental Charge $  2.53/1000 kWh           
Total Base Charge          $63.02/ 1000 kWh