Longtime health care advocate leaving

David Sylvester-JUMBO
David Sylvester-JUMBO
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David Sylvester started his Central Florida career in 1997 as vice president for long-term care at Health Central Park.

OCOEE — Friday will be David Sylvester’s last day as executive director of the West Orange Healthcare District. He and his wife, Lynne, are moving from Winter Garden to the Sarasota area, where he has accepted a position as president and CEO of Pines of Sarasota, a 25-acre non-profit, post-acute care campus. He will begin the new job in mid-November.

“I am very excited for this next chapter,” Sylvester said in a recent Facebook post announcing his move.

He wants to get back to health care operations, he said.

“I love working with a large team,” he said. “I love providing safe and high-quality care for elders. And I’ve done it since I’ve been in my early 20s.”

The Pines of Sarasota, founded by the Kiwanians in 1948, has a skilled-nursing facility like Health Central Park and includes assisted-living units, dementia care and an educational institute that organizes educational videos on elderly care. It also operates two upscale thrift shops that reportedly have the best antiques in the area, he said.

“I will have to trade my Rotary pin for a Kiwanis pin,” the longtime Winter Garden Rotarian and former Rotary president quipped.

Sylvester served one year as executive director but has a long affiliation with healthcare in West Orange County. He started his Central Florida career in 1997 as vice president for long-term care at Health Central Park. Around 2003, he became senior vice president at Health Central and also served as president of the Health Central Foundation in 2008. In 2011, he went to work for Orlando Health prior to its acquisition of Health Central Hospital. He spent two years there before taking the position of the healthcare district’s executive director.

He started his career in health in 1986 as a certified nursing assistant in Maine before becoming a respiratory therapist and ambulance driver. He served as a nursing home administrator in Jacksonville before moving in 1997 to West Orange.

In his role as executive director of the West Orange Healthcare District, Sylvester said he led the group “in charge of the grants-making process for non-profit healthcare-related initiatives and existing initiatives.”

In 2012, Orlando Health purchased Health Central Hospital and Health Central Park, and the healthcare district was the recipient of those dollars, he said.

One of the district’s biggest accomplishments under his direction, he said, was giving Health Central $25 million to build an emergency room and $14 million toward the $19 million bed tower project.

The district now is conducting a search for a new executive director, and the trustees will hire the replacement. On the board are Timothy Keating (chairman), John Murphy Jr. (vice chairman), Maryke Lee (secretary) and Steven Stanford (treasurer). Trustees are Kurt Ardaman, Ward Britt, Dr. Denise Carter, Shannon Gravitte, Keisha Francis, Mark Griffith, Gerald Jowers, Carolyn Sawyer, Don Shaw, Rod Talbot, Rosemary Wilsen and Roniece Weaver.


The West Orange Healthcare District is an independent board of 16 citizens appointed by the governor to serve the health and wellness needs of the area’s communities through the funding of innovative programs and the expansion of services.

The Florida Legislature first established this independent special healthcare district in 1949.

The district stretches from Kirkman Road in the east to the Lake County line in the west and from the city of Apopka in the north to the Osceola County line to the south.

Contact Amy Quesinberry Rhode at [email protected].


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