Kelly Cullen of Tampa General Hospital Named a ‘Hospital and Health System Chief Operating Officer to Know’ by Becker’s Hospital Review | Tampa General Hospital

Kelly Cullen of Tampa General Hospital Named a ‘Hospital and Health System Chief Operating Officer to Know’ by Becker’s Hospital Review

Published: Oct 31, 2023

Tampa General Hospital’s EVP and Chief Operating Officer was recognized for driving team member engagement and operational excellence.



Tampa, FL (Oct. 31, 2023) – Tampa General Hospital (TGH) announced that Kelly Cullen, the academic health system’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, has been named to Becker’s Hospital Review’s 2023 list of “Hospital and Health System Chief Operating Officers to Know.” Cullen is one of 75 COOs recognized from across the U.S. and is the only COO from the West Central Florida region included on this year’s list.

Cullen was lauded for demonstrating excellence in leading all clinical and operational strategies, including managing partnerships with key constituents for the 1,040-bed academic health system, which serves as the region’s only Level I trauma and comprehensive burn care center, as well as the primary teaching hospital for the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine. In her role, she also leads emergency and disaster preparedness, ensuring the safety of the hospital, its team members, patients and visitors.

“Kelly is an exceptional leader who drives meaningful impact for our organization, our team members and our patients by building relationships and strengthening our culture of multidisciplinary collaboration hospital-wide,” said John Couris, president and CEO of Tampa General Hospital.

Cullen is spearheading the organization’s five-year, $550 million Master Facility Plan — the largest in Tampa General’s history. This historic capital commitment positions Tampa General to bring the most advanced technology and innovative care into the region through the creation of Tampa Bay’s Medical and Research District in downtown Tampa and the surrounding areas.

The Master Facility Plan includes the construction of a new 13-story pavilion on the main hospital campus, which will serve as a platform for the growth of the health system’s surgical, neuroscience and transplant institutes, adding 144 beds and 32 operating room suites. Recently, the academic health system opened a new freestanding emergency department, the TGH Cancer Institute Outpatient Infusion Center, and broke ground on a dedicated behavioral health hospital. This footprint expansion is advancing access to world-class care in the Tampa Bay community and statewide.

During a time when health systems across the nation have faced significant nursing shortages, Cullen, in collaboration with leadership, successfully led efforts to stabilize staffing and reduce Tampa General’s reliance on traveler and agency resources, returning the health system to a core model. As of October 2023, these efforts have resulted in a decrease from 352 registered nurse travelers to just 11, yielding significant improvements in quality of care, patient safety, team member engagement and financial performance.

My training and career as a bedside nurse, my prior leadership roles and now in my position as a member of the executive leadership team of a leading academic health system have all fundamentally shaped my philosophy about what it means to be a leader,” said Cullen. “One of the most important things we can do as leaders is connect — connect with team members to ensure we work as a united front, connect with patients to improve quality of care and patient experience and connect everything we do back to our shared purpose.

In her role, Cullen coordinates all organizational responses and preparedness initiatives for both community health emergencies and natural disasters. She collaborated closely with team members across the health system to masterfully lead Tampa General’s COVID-19 response, including close coordination with community members, local and state government officials, EMS and other stakeholders. In this capacity, Cullen and her team recently ensured the safety of more than 950 patients throughout the duration of Hurricane Idalia, which brought strong winds and storm surge into Tampa Bay.

“It’s an honor to be recognized by Becker’s alongside an impressive cohort of clinical operations leaders,” Cullen added. “I’m proud to share this recognition with our tremendous team members across every role, discipline and location, who have put in an incredible amount of work and dedication to make Tampa General a leading academic health system and a best-in-class care experience for our patients and our community.”

Becker’s Hospital Review is a leading source of hospital business news and analysis for the health care industry. Cullen and the remainder of this year’s “Hospital and Health System Chief Operating Officers to Know” honorees are profiled online here.