St. Joseph’s Hospital-North undergoing $75 million expansion

St. Joseph’s Hospital-North is the midst of a $75 million expansion that will double the hospital’s capacity and support additional services.

Crews are currently working to build out four additional operating suites, in shelled spaces that were included during the original construction in anticipation of future need.

Ryan Bittner, project superintendent on a $75 million expansion project at St. Joseph’s Hospital-North, explains the complexity of the construction drawings needed for the project.
(B.C. Manion)

The operating suites are expected to be completed in September, said Sara Dodds, director of operations.

Meanwhile, work is underway to prepare for a two-floor expansion.

That portion of the project is expected to begin in July, said Ryan Bittner, who works for Barton Malow and is the project superintendent for the hospital’s expansion.

“We’ll start with the concrete sheer walls first, like the stairwells, the structural concrete portions that we’ll tie all the steel into. Once that’s up, our steel contractor will come in and erect. That’s when you’ll see the biggest change because you’ll see all of the steel framing go up, the floors being installed, all of the decking,” he said.

The additional floors, which will each have 54 patient rooms, are scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2020, Dodds said.

Although the expansion of the facility at 4211 Van Dyke Road in Lutz, was always planned, the need came faster than initially expected, Dodds said.

“The growth rate around us is higher than the state of Florida and higher than the nation. If you drive around, there’s more than 1,000 homes and apartments going up, just within 1 mile of us,” she said, adding, “we are regularly now running at capacity.”

Sara Dodds, operations director for St. Joseph’s Hospital-North, is overseeing the expansion of the hospital, which she said was anticipated when the hospital opened in 2010, but came faster than expected because of area growth.

When the expansion is completed and the patient rooms are full, the hospital expects to add around 200 positions, including clinical staff and support services.

The expansion will allow the hospital to double the number of beds it has in its intensive care unit from 12 to 24, by converting 12 existing progressive care beds into intensive care beds.

The 108 beds being added will consist of 48 beds for patients receiving progressive care and 60 beds for those receiving medical surgical care.

Progressive care beds are for patients who are not typically as ill as those needing critical care, but require more specialized attention than a general patient recovering from surgery.

When the expansion is completed, the hospital will have 12 dedicated private rooms for infusion services, Dodds said. Currently, those services are provided in a shared space.

Before work began, the hospital reached out to its neighbors to share its plans, Dodds said.

“One of the things that there was concern about was the path of the deliveries and the construction crews, and we addressed that,” Dodds said, noting those deliveries and crews will not be cutting through residential areas.

The construction team will do what it can to minimize noise, but there will be noise, Dodds said.

“We’ll work with every patient that comes to make sure they understand there may be some noise,” she said, adding that the hospital will give patients earplugs, if they need them.

Crews are preparing to do the framing for the ceiling in four operating suites that are being built out at St. Joseph’s Hospital-North. The shells for the rooms were included in the original construction, in anticipation of future need.

“Whenever possible, we will minimize whatever work needs to be done at night,” she added.

If the project is finished on time, it will roughly coincide with the hospital’s 10-year anniversary.

When it opened, St. Joseph’s Hospital-North was the first new hospital that had been built in Hillsborough County for 30 years. Before that, area residents had to drive for miles to get to the nearest hospital.

Dodds vividly recalls opening day on Feb. 15, 2010.

She was a charge nurse at the time and remembers gazing out of the third-story window to see the hospital’s first patient approaching the building. It had 2,918 discharges that first year.

In 2011, its first full year of operation, the hospital had 4,831 discharges. That compares to 7,814 last year, which is a 61 percent increase since 2011, hospital officials note.

The larger hospital will address the community’s growing needs, Dodds said.

St. Joseph’s Hospital-North, by the numbers

  • 7,814 discharges
  • 404 births
  • 4,467 outpatient surgeries
  • 42,869 emergency department visits
  • 463,414 lab tests
  • 799 team members
  • 156 physicians

These figures are for 2017, the last complete year that statistics are available.

Published July 4, 2018

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