FORT MYERS — This year, Dr. Larry Antonucci is celebrating his fortieth year on the Lee Health medical staff, 24 years as a practicing obstetrician and gynecologist (OBGYN) and the chance meeting that brought him to Fort Myers. Dr. Antonucci has witnessed how Lee Health and the community have evolved and expanded over the years, especially since he became Lee Health’s CEO in 2017.
Dr. Antonucci has been a driving force in Lee Health’s patient safety program, which has won numerous awards and consistently ranks high in CMS’s Quality Star program. During stints as Chief Administrative Officer for Cape Coral Hospital and as Chief Operating Officer for Lee Health, he frequently embedded himself with frontline work teams, such as housekeeping and patient transport, to stay connected to the care provided to patients each day and identify ways to improve quality and remove barriers.
“Dr. Antonucci lives the mission of Lee Health every day to build a healthier future for our Southwest Florida community. He has been a healthcare leader for four decades and has worked to make Lee Health one of the best healthcare systems in Florida since he joined our leadership team 16 years ago. Dr. Antonucci has made compassionate, high-quality care a cornerstone of Lee Health and continues to introduce new technologies, bring positive innovation, recruit quality physicians and enhance Lee Health’s core offerings. I am proud to work alongside such a passionate, community-focused leader,” said Lee Health Board of Directors chairperson, Donna Clarke.
Forty years ago, a handshake in the Edison Mall food court was all it took for Dr. Antonucci to move to Fort Myers from Virginia and join an independent OBGYN practice with another prominent area physician.
“You never know what a chance meeting will bring,” Dr. Antonucci said. “The littlest things can make the biggest difference. I’ve created a home here in Fort Myers and this is where we have raised our family. I couldn’t imagine living and working anywhere else. I am truly blessed to live in paradise and lead one of the best healthcare systems in Florida. We have built an incredible team and I am proud to be a part of that.”
Dr. Antonucci went to school at the University of Miami, but he’d never been to the West Coast of Florida. A friend in Tampa recommended he call Dr. Allen Shevach to explore practice opportunities in Fort Myers. Dr. Antonucci jokes that if he didn’t answer, he probably wouldn’t have called back. But Dr. Shevach did answer and as fate would have it, he was also looking for a partner. The two met and solidified everything with a handshake at the Edison Mall food court. A lot has happened since then and times have certainly changed.
At that time, Lee Health was still known as Lee Memorial Health System and there was only one hospital. Now, there are four adult hospitals, one children’s hospital and many Lee Physician Group offices scattered throughout Southwest Florida.
Prior to joining Lee Health, Dr. Antonucci co-founded Physicians Primary Care in Lee County in 1995. He joined Lee Health in 2007 as the Chief Administrative Officer for Cape Coral Hospital. In 2009, he was appointed Chief Operating Officer of Hospital Services for the health system and assumed responsibility for Physician Services in early 2010. The next year in October 2011, Dr. Antonucci was named Chief Operating Officer for the health system. He became its President and CEO in 2017.