St. Joseph’s Hospital opens in Riverview; admits first patients

St. Joseph’s Hospital South President Scott Smith was on hand for opening day at the Riverview hospital that has been more than 30 years in the making.

St. Joseph’s Hospital South President Scott Smith was on hand for opening day at the Riverview hospital that has been more than 30 years in the making.

By KEVIN BRADY

They were supposed to open at 7 a.m. Monday morning, Feb. 2, but when the first patient showed up at the emergency room at 5:10 a.m., the staff at St. Joseph’s Hospital South opened the doors to Mary Shepard.

“The treatment I received was fantastic. There are no words to describe it,” said Shepard, a Riverview resident whose brother oversaw the plumbing at the hospital and whose daughter plans to work there. “I know they were not supposed to open until 7 a.m., but they opened the doors for me and treated me with respect and they were wonderful.”

On being the first-ever patient, Shepard chuckled and said, “It felt good.”

More than 30 years in the making, costing $237 million and with a hand-picked staff, St. Joseph’s had treated 30 patients by 3 p.m. Monday in the emergency room, and three patients were admitted.

The first St. Joseph’s baby should not be far off.

“We had a lot of women pre-register to give birth at St. Joseph’s,” said Nancy Gay, the hospital’s media relations coordinator.

The 112-bed, 360,000-square-foot hospital features the latest in medical technology and patient care, offering 20 separate medical services, including emergency, orthopedics, labor and delivery, a cardiac catherization lab and surgical suites.

Ground was broken for the hospital, which sits on 72 acres on Simmons Loop in Riverview, on Oct. 17, 2012. The campus also includes an 85,000-square-foot medical office building — expected to open next month — and a 40,000-square-foot outpatient center, which opened in 2013. Built on property purchased by St. Joseph’s more than 30 years ago, planning for the hospital began a decade ago.

St. Joseph’s, part of the BayCare Health System, is the sister hospital to St. Joseph’s Hospital North in Lutz, with many of the lessons in patient care and comfort learned there implemented at the new hospital.

BayCare Health System is a leading community-based health system in the Tampa Bay area with a network of 13 nonprofit hospitals, outpatient facilities and services such as imaging, lab, behavioral health and home-health care.

St. Joseph’s brings 500 jobs to South County. At least another 200 people have signed up to be members of the hospital’s auxiliary.

“There really was a tremendous level of support for St. Joseph’s Hospital and BayCare moving into the area,” said hospital President Scott Smith. “Everyone is very excited about it and we are thrilled to open our doors and begin treating the South Shore community.”

The hospital includes a full-service, 32-bed emergency care unit with private examination rooms, six operating room suites, a 16-bed intensive care unit, two 30-bed medical/surgical units with private rooms and a 14-bed mother/baby unit with private rooms to accommodate mother, baby and family.

“Everything here reflects state-of-the-art design and state-of-the-art technology,” Smith said. “When you are opening something brand-new,” he said, “you have the opportunity to bring all that together at one moment in time for the patient experience and patient safety, and that is what this really reflects.”

The hospital expects to treat 40,000 to 50,000 emergency room patients in its first year, with 3,000 to 4,000 hospitalizations.

“Everyone was really excited today,” Gay said. “To see it open after having worked on it for so long was amazing. We even had team members come in at 3 a.m. to make sure everything was all set.”

For more information on volunteering or employment opportunities, visit BayCare on the Web at www.baycare.org/SJH-South.

An orientation tour for anyone who wants to learn more about the hospital is also planned for March. Visit the hospital website for more information.

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