Bayfront Health St. Petersburg Digestive Health Institute opens

New program provides specialized diagnostic and treatment services for complex and general digestive and liver diseases

St. Petersburg, FL (August 1, 2022) – Physicians at Bayfront Health St. Petersburg are now seeing patients at the new Bayfront Health St. Petersburg Digestive Health Institute, a highly specialized gastrointestinal diagnostic and treatment program designed to serve patients from across the southeastern United States. The institute integrates medicine, surgery, radiology, and pathology to optimize care for patients with complex and general digestive and liver disorders.

“The Bayfront Health St. Petersburg Digestive Health Institute will help patients in our community who suffer from debilitating conditions. It is designed and developed by a panel of internationally recognized experts specializing in pancreatic and biliary disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, gastrointestinal oncology and other complex digestive disorders,” said Trina Espinola, MD, Bayfront Health St. Petersburg chief medical officer. “ We are excited to introduce this comprehensive service.”

Using the latest technologies, physicians with the Bayfront Health St. Petersburg Digestive Health Institute will provide treatment options for a range of digestive disorders, including:

  • Dietary sensitivities such as celiac disease and lactose intolerance
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), Barrett's esophagus
  • Abdominal pain, difficulty swallowing, Anemia due to blood loss
  • H. pylori infection and ulcer disease,
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn's disease and Ulcerative Colitis (IBD)
  • Diarrhea, Constipation and diverticular disease
  • Stomach, esophageal and colorectal cancer
  • Biliary and Gallstone disease, Pancreatitis, Pancreatic cancer
  • Achalasia, Gastroparesis, Zenkers Diverticulum
  • Nutrition and Endoscopic Weight loss Therapy
  • Liver diseases – NASH cirrhosis, hepatitis B, C, Autoimmune liver disease

The medical team at the Bayfront Health St. Petersburg Digestive Health Institute is led by 2 gastroenterologists.

Benjamin Tharian, MD
Benjamin Tharian, MD

Benjamin Tharian, MD, Interventional Endoscopy

Dr. Tharian is board certified in gastroenterology and hepatology. He will be leading the Center for Advanced Endoscopy, Research & Education (CARE) at Bayfront Health St Petersburg Digestive Health Institute. He is a recognized expert in providing care for complex digestive disorders. Dr. Tharian received his medical training at Medical College Trivandrum and Kottayam, both in India. He completed internal medicine residency and a 5-year fellowship in Gastroenterology, Hepatology and General Medicine in the National Health Service, UK. Dr. Tharian most recently served as an Associate Professor of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, and the Director of General and Advanced Endoscopy at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and Arkansas Children’s Hospital. He set up the Advanced Endoscopy Fellowship Program at UAMS and also served as the Executive Director of the same. Dr Tharian has a keen interest in ESD for endoscopic treatment of early cancer, POEM for Achalasia, Gastroparesis and Zenkers diverticulum, endoscopic procedures for severe reflux disease (TIF) and endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty for weight loss.   Dr. Tharian has a keen interest in quality improvement projects and has published more than 100 articles in peer-reviewed journals.


Nayana George, MD
Nayana George, MD

Nayana George, MD, Gastroenterology and Hepatology

Dr. Nayana George is a fellowship-trained specialist in gastroenterology and hepatology who practices at Bayfront Health St. Petersburg Digestive Health Institute. Dr. George offers comprehensive and coordinated care to evaluate, diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions affecting the digestive tract and gastrointestinal organs. Dr. George received her medical training at Medical College, Trivandrum in India. She completed her residency in internal medicine and fellowship in Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. She is board certified in Internal Medicine. Dr. George has published more than 30 articles in peer-reviewed journals, covering a wide variety of topics such as Management of Complications of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, diabetes in cirrhotics and drug-induced liver disease. She also has presented at conferences across the country and actively participates in ongoing clinical research.


About Bayfront Health St. Petersburg

The 480-bed Bayfront Health St. Petersburg was founded in 1910. It was acquired October 1, 2020 by Orlando Health, a not-for-profit healthcare organization with $8 billion of assets under management. The hospital’s areas of clinical excellence include heart and vascular, surgical services, rehabilitation services, neurosciences, maternity care and – as home to the only state-accredited Level Two Adult Trauma Center in the St. Petersburg region – emergency services and trauma care.

Bayfront Health St. Petersburg is integral to the 3,200-bed Orlando Health system which serves the southeastern United States through 10 award-winning hospitals, 9 hospital based ERs, including Central Florida’s only Level I Trauma Center, and 7 free-standing emergency rooms; rehabilitation services, cancer and heart institutes, imaging and laboratory services, wound care centers, physician offices for adults and pediatrics, skilled nursing facilities, an in-patient behavioral health facility, home healthcare services in partnership with LHC Group, and urgent care centers in partnership with FastMed Urgent Care. More than 4,200 physicians, representing more than 100 medical specialties and subspecialties have privileges across the system, which employs more than 23,000 team members.

Orlando Health’s Graduate Medical Education (GME) program hosts more than 350 residents and fellows including more than 40 who are enrolled at Bayfront Health St. Petersburg’s OB/GYN, Family Medicine, Sports Medicine and Pharmacy programs.

In FY21, Orlando Health served more than 160,000 inpatients and 3.6 million outpatients. During that same time period, Orlando Health provided approximately ¬¬¬$648 million in total value to the communities it serves in the form of charity care, community benefit programs and services, community building activities and more. Additional information can be found at or follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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