Sometimes the path to leading one of the most advanced and complex organizations in a community starts on a dirt road. Brian Wetzel, who takes over as president of Orlando Health St. Cloud Hospital on July 1, can remember that when his family moved to St. Cloud in 1983 there were still unpaved roads in town. Back then, days for Brian and his brothers were filled with baseball, basketball, and the other stuff of typical kids at St. Cloud Middle and St. Cloud High School.

But it was during those formative years and experiences that Brian developed the character and fundamental qualities that would take him into one of the most challenging leadership roles imaginable.

“I’ve spent the last quarter-century learning how great high functioning hospitals operate, and how exceptional quality and compassionate care is provided to our patients,” said Wetzel. “Now I get to bring that experience back to my hometown, St. Cloud. It’s extremely satisfying.”

Wetzel started his career at St. Cloud hospital as an entry-level employee in 1996 where he registered patients in the emergency department. His career with Orlando Health has been steadily growing in responsibility ever since.

“Brian has lived in St. Cloud for about 40 years,” said Thibaut Van Marcke, President of Orlando Health Dr. Phillips Hospital and senior vice President of Orlando Health’s southeast region, which includes Orlando Health St. Cloud. “Now, nearly 25 years after joining Orlando Health, he is president of his hometown hospital. We are all very proud of him.”

Prior to this assignment, Wetzel, who is a vice president with Orlando Health, was also president of Orlando Health Horizon West Hospital. There, he has been responsible for all aspects of hospital operations, achieving organizational goals, as well as quality and financial plans.

Among Wetzel’s biggest achievements are leading operational, planning and expansion activities for Orlando Health Dr. P. Phillips Hospital, Orlando Health Heart & Vascular Institute and Orlando Health Cancer Institute. He also led the $320 million renovation and redesign of Orlando Health Orlando Regional Medical Center while continuing his administrative role for ancillary and facility planning. And he led the Orlando Health Horizon West building project and planned the opening.

As Wetzel contemplates next steps for Orlando Health St. Cloud Hospital, he is able to keep everything in the perspective of a hometown kid, a guy who grew up in Pine Lake Estates, a stone’s throw from the hospital and whose first part-time job as a high school sophomore was washing dishes at the old Park View Restaurant, which is now the site of Kisselback Ford.

“My story is one I share often with new Orlando Health team members,” Wetzel said. “”I’m a living example of how one’s career can progress if you’re willing to accept new challenges, do the best job you can, and be committed to continually learning.”

Wetzel might be used to building exceptional teams that are responsible for incredibly complex projects and organizations, but he’s thoroughly a St. Cloud champion.

“This is my home. We moved here when I was 13 when my dad, Paul Wetzel began a 17-year career with the City, first as human resources manager, then as city manager. This is where my brothers and I grew up, where we learned about hard work and being part of a community. It’s where I met my wife Linda, and where we raised our kids. Now I get to focus on providing the best health care possible for the people of our community. I couldn’t be happier.”