BayCare wants to build new hospital in Pasco

BayCare has received preliminary approval of an application to build a new 60-bed hospital on a 111-acre site, at the northeast quadrant of Interstate 75 and Overpass Road.

The Agency for Health Care Administration on Dec. 10 announced preliminary approval of the hospital’s application for a Certificate of Need.

Tommy Inzina, president/CEO of BayCare (Courtesy of BayCare)

As part of its application, BayCare outlined plans that include:
• Construction of the hospital
• Recruitment of primary care practitioners
• Implementation of additional behavioral health services
• A commitment to community outreach, wellness and education activities
• An investment in training and education for Pasco County school students interested in health care careers.

Tommy Inzina, president/CEO of BayCare, said the new hospital would provide medical services in a growing area of Pasco County.

The proposed site meshes well with the hospital’s need to take the long view, Inzina said, noting, “hospitals have to have a plan for 50 or 100 years.”

When BayCare was considering locating a hospital in Pasco, it began looking north of Wesley Chapel, to meet the growing need moving north along the Interstate 75 corridor, the hospital executive said.

BayCare wanted a site near Interstate 75, to make the site easily accessible, and it wanted 50 acres or more of land, Inzina said.

“There’s just not an infinite number of sites that would meet that definition,” Inzina said.

The property at I-75 and Overpass Road fit the bill.

Inzina noted the property is “a large enough piece of property to not only accommodate the hospital needs today, but what the needs might look like 30, 40, 50 years into the future.”

There are plans to create an interchange at I-75 and Overpass Road, and the area is poised for considerable growth, as new developments occur in the state-approved Connected City corridor, which covers about 7,800 acres in northeast Pasco County, bordered by I-75, State Road 52, and Curley and Overpass roads.

The timing for construction of the new hospital is unclear at this point, Inzina said.

Adventist Health, which operates Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel, Florida Hospital Zephyrhills and Florida Hospital Dade City in Pasco County, has raised objections to BayCare’s application.

Inzina said BayCare expects to know by early January whether Adventist Health will appeal.

Inzina said the state was aware of the objections that were raised and BayCare’s responses, when it issued its preliminary approval for the Certificate of Need.

“If they (Adventist Health) appeal this, it could take perhaps up to a year to work through the appeals process,” Inzina said.

Meanwhile, BayCare will continue preparing for the new hospital, Inzina said.

“You can’t begin construction without a Certificate of Need, but we can do all of the planning we want to,” he said. For example, the hospital can work to secure the proper zoning for the land.

Typically, it takes 3 ½ to 4 years for a hospital project to be completed, including design, permitting and construction, Inzina said.

No specific figures are available for the project’s cost, but Inzina offered a rough estimate ranging from $250 million to $300 million.

BayCare expects hospital construction to bring hundreds of jobs to the area. It also expects about 300 permanent positions at the hospital by the second year of hospital operations.

Additionally, BayCare expects the hospital’s economic impact to include surrounding growth, including medical offices and other businesses.

BayCare Health System operates 15 hospitals in the Tampa Bay and Central Florida regions.

Published December 19, 2018

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