Impacts of new medical facilities
By Kyle LoJacono
The last few years have seen a slowdown in development in most areas of the economy, but healthcare facilities have continued to pop up all over the map.
When the Medical Center of Trinity opens later this month, it will mark the second of three full-service hospitals to open within the area during a four-year time span.
The first was St. Joseph’s Hospital-North in Lutz, which began serving patients in February 2009. The third of the trio to open is Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel, which is slated for completion during the second half of 2012.
John Hagen, president and CEO of Pasco County’s Economic Development Council, said having the new facilities has and will help the economy in the area pick up.
“It already has brought energy to the area,” Hagen said. “If you drive around any of the hospitals you see new medical businesses and other businesses opening up to try and take advantage of them.”
Hagen added the mere sight of construction projects, such as those for the hospitals in Trinity and Wesley Chapel, lets people see progress is still being made.
“With all the doom and gloom people have been hearing for years, it’s a relief to see a multi-million dollar hospital being built,” Hagen said. “It gives them some hope that things are picking up, which they are.”
Along with the economic impact, there is also the boost that hospitals can give to the healthcare of an area especially when it comes to the speed people can receive medical attention.
Tim Reardon, Pasco’s rescue chief, said ambulances take people to the facility they want to go. If they are unconscious or otherwise unable to speak, the patient is taken to the nearest facility that is equipped to treat their medical problems.
“Now that doesn’t mean the closest hospital is the one they would go to because certain places can treat certain things,” Reardon said.
Reardon added that one example is some facilities are accredited to treat strokes, so an ambulance would take stroke victims to places that could treat such a problem. Once open, the Medical Center of Trinity will be the closest Advanced Primary Stroke Center for most area residents.
In addition, Reardon said ambulance units disregard county lines when it comes to going to the nearest hospital. In many cases the nearest hospital for people in central Pasco is St. Joseph’s Hospital-North, which is in Hillsborough County.
Before St. Joseph’s Hospital-North opened, the closest full-service hospital to most residents of Land O’ Lakes, Lutz, Odessa and Wesley Chapel was Florida Hospital Tampa, formally University Community Hospital just south of New Tampa. Now people will have more options.
Michael Thomas, who lives in Lutz, said he likes the idea of having choices when it comes to healthcare.
“They won’t be able to think we’ll just go to their hospital just because they’re the only one in town,” Thomas said. “I was really happy when St. Joseph’s opened here and a couple more would just make things better in my opinion.”
Land O’ Lakes resident Marsha Massa had a similar view.
“Well they would have to be the best in the area if I’m going to take my family to their hospital,” said Massa, a married mother of two. “If it’s an emergency, then getting to the closest hospital is important, but if it’s like surgery we don’t have to have right now then we’d go to the best one.”