More than 7,000 people turned out Saturday for a look at South County’s newest hospital, a sparkling 112-bed, $237 million, 360,000-square-foot monument to the latest in medical technology and patient care set to open next month.
St. Joseph’s Hospital South will offer nearly 20 different medical services, including emergency, orthopedics, labor and delivery, a cardiac catheterization lab and surgical suites. The hospital boasts 90 private-patient suites, 22 observation rooms, with each patient room designed to have a view of nature.
Part of the nonprofit BayCare Health System, which includes 12 sister hospitals in the Bay area, St. Joseph’s South brings 500 jobs to Riverview. In addition, 200 people have already signed up as members of the hospital auxiliary.
From hallway lighting set to the side of each ceiling to avoid shining into patient rooms to sturdy locking doors in emergency-room exam suites — no pulling an exam-room flimsy curtain across for privacy in the ER here — the hospital represents the latest thinking in patient care, according to hospital officials.
“Meticulous thought and detail have gone into the planning and development of this environmentally friendly facility,” Paula McGuiness, construction project executive president at St. Joseph’s Hospital North, told The Observer’s Penny Fletcher earlier this year.
Lessons learned at BayCare’s other hospitals helped shape the design of St. Joseph’s South, said Lisa Patterson, the new hospital’s communications manager.
“The entire project team that designed St. Joseph’s Hospital South had previously worked on St. Joseph’s Hospital North, which has been open now for five years,” Patterson said. “So they were able to take their best practices from that experience, in addition to the industry best practices, and apply all those lessons learned to the patient design and focus here.”
Here, in question-and-answer-form, is a discussion with St. Joseph’s Hospital South president Scott Smith.
Smith spent several years as a pharmacist before entering health-care administration, first serving as an administrator at Craven Regional Medical Center in North Carolina, where he spent almost seven years as executive director. Smith went on to work at Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital in North Carolina before serving as CEO at: Fannin Regional Hospital in Georgia; Russell County Medical Center in Virginia; and Lake Wales Medical Center in Florida. A self-taught musician, Smith is also an avid surfer who spent several years living on a sailboat.
Q: What’s different about working for a nonprofit hospital?
A: BayCare is a very successful hospital organization and health-care system. I have worked in the for-profit side of the industry for 10 years, and the primary difference between the two is where value is returned. Do you return value back to the local community — or do you return value back to shareholders? The actual practice of health care is very similar across the country; the real difference is where we return value. We return value back to the community by reinvesting this type of capital back into the community through services such as this acute-care hospital.
Q: What makes St. Joseph’s Hospital South unique?
A: Everything here reflects state-of-the-art design and state-of-the-art technology. When you are opening something brand-new, 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.
Q: What are BayCare’s expansion plans for the hospital?
A: We will expand based on the needs of the community. That will be a thoughtful process and will be driven by what the needs of this community and market are. We certainly have the capacity to expand both horizontally and vertically — and with this campus (72 acres) we can expand very readily — but we will match that expansion with the demands and needs of the community.
Q: How long has BayCare been planning on expanding into South Shore?
A: This property was purchased by St. Joseph’s over 30 years ago, knowing that this market was going to grow, that there would be heavy population growth. The planning began over 10 years ago for this project with the green light for planning and construction starting about five years ago with the opening of St. Joseph’s North, and learning from those experiences and translating those here into St. Joseph’s South.
What visitors said about the hospital:
“It’s wonderful. I am very impressed. The way the emergency room is set up is very efficient. The doors in the emergency-room treatment areas are also very private. That’s very nice when you are trying to talk to a doctor privately. That will also make patients feel better.”
— Hazel Crosby, Sun City Center
“It’s fabulous. I was impressed by the organization and thought that they put into how things are set up, especially when you go through the emergency room. I think it will put more people at ease when they come in. Most people are anxious when they come to a hospital but [the planning] seems very well thought out.”
— Sue Bennett, Riverview
“It is a beautiful hospital; state-of-the-art. The machinery stuck in my mind. I have been in hospitals quite a lot, and some of that stuff I have never seen before.”
— Warren Rivera, Riverview
What the staff said about the hospital:
“This is fantastic. You can’t ask for better than this. It’s new. It’s a community hospital. It’s nonprofit. The team has been hand-picked. As the clinical engineering manager, all the equipment is in my realm, and we have the latest, greatest technology that is on the market to not only treat the patients but to assist the physicians.
—David Booker, Clinical Engineering Manager
“I like the community feeling of this hospital. I like that they put their patients and employees first and the caring attitude of everyone. It makes a big difference when you can pull together as a team and help someone get well.”
— Jill Gallagher, Emergency Department Dayshift Charge Nurse
“I like how we are getting ready to serve this amazing community and bring such high-quality patient care. We are building a brand-new culture. It’s a chance for us to create an amazing atmosphere that I don’t think a lot of people get to do.
— Rita Templeton, one of the hospital’s Directors of Nursing
Features at the Riverview hospital include:
• Emergency Center: a full service, 32-bed unit containing private examination rooms, with 10 exam rooms dedicated to fast-track patients
• Surgical and Interventional Platform: six operating room suites, with two designated for women, and two interventional radiology/cardiac catheterization laboratories.
• Intensive Care Unit: a high-tech, 16-bed ICU for patients with complex medical and surgical needs who require close observation from specially trained nursing staff.
• Medical/Surgical Units: two 30-bed medical/surgical units with private rooms.
• Mother/Baby Unit: A 14-bed unit with private rooms to accommodate mother, baby and family. A 10-bassinet nursery will also be available.
Services the hospital will offer:
Cancer — Adult Infusion Center
Ear, Nose and Throat
Intensive Care (ICU)
Sleep Disorders Center
Sitting on 72 acres on Simmons Loop in Riverview, St. Joseph’s South, which broke ground on Oct. 17 2012, is expected to open in early February. The hospital awaits one final certification Jan. 26. “After that date, we will be certified and licensed to receive patients,” said Scott Smith, the hospital’s president.
He said the hospital conservatively expects to treat 40,000 to 50,000 emergency-room patients in its first year, with 3,000 to 4,000 hospitalizations.
The campus also includes an 85,000-square-foot medical office building — also expected to open next month — and a 40,000-square-foot outpatient center that opened in 2013.
With more than 7,000 fans on the hospital’s Facebook page before the facility opened and 900 people signed up for tours last week, hospital administrators were expecting a large crowd for the unofficial unveiling, which featured family activities and live entertainment, including a performance by Sisaundra from NBC’s The Voice and Solar Exposure, a local band chosen by fans on the hospital’s Facebook page.
Free shuttles transported visitors to the hospital from South Bay Church, East Bay High School and Eisenhower Middle School for the event.
The Tampa St. Joseph’s was founded by the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany, N.Y., in 1934.
For those who could not make the tour, an interactive computer-generated-imagery tour of the hospital is available on YouTube by searching for “St. Joseph’s Hospital – South.”
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.