A ceremonial groundbreaking was held last week for the new BayCare Hospital Wesley Chapel, under construction at 4501 Bruce B. Downs Blvd.
The Dec. 2 event was dubbed “ceremonial” — because crews already are working hard to build the 318,000-square-foot facility that is scheduled to open in early 2023.
While the sounds of construction work served as a backdrop, officials offered remarks about the project. It is being built on land the hospital chain acquired in 2008.
Mindful that the “groundbreaking” milestone was being celebrated during the midst of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the gathering was kept small. Guests, were bundled up because of brisk weather. They wore masks, and the seating was spaced out to encourage social distancing.
BayCare Chairman of the Board Eric Obeck, reflected on some of the challenges posed by COVID-19, while addressing the audience.
“While 2020 has been an unprecedented year for health care that has called for tough decisions and creative solutions, we are grateful to celebrate the long-term goals that brought us to this moment,” Obeck said.
“I’m proud to be part of an organization that keeps setting the pace, even as we react to the coronavirus impact on our daily business,” the health care official continued.
“Over the past few months, we have canceled and restarted elective procedures and visiting hours. We have offered our team members early retirement and managed to retain our workforce of nearly 30,000 team members without furloughs or layoffs,” he said.
BayCare also has continued its plans to expand its hospitals in St. Petersburg, Safety Harbor and Clearwater, even while building the first hospital to bear the BayCare name, Obeck said.
Glenn Waters, executive vice president and chief operating officer of BayCare, offered some project details.
“Our 86-bed general community hospital will provide medical/surgical care, emergency care, cardiac care, surgical care – including general surgery, orthopedics, urology and gastroenterology – imaging, and outreach lab services.
“Beyond the ‘beds’ and the ‘services’ we provide, we will hire about 220 team members to be the heart and soul of BayCare Hospital Wesley Chapel,” he added.
Waters noted that the nearly 30,000 people who work across the BayCare system, make it a great place to work.
The year 2020 was the third consecutive year that BayCare was named one of Fortune’s 100 best companies to work for anywhere in the country, Waters added.
He also cited recognition for the hospital’s quality of care.
“According to IBM Watson, we are in the top 20% of high-performing health systems across the country,” Waters said.
The event also included a reflection from Father Aloysius Ezenwata, a director of mission with BayCare. He read a selection from scripture, offered some commentary and shared a prayer.
In part, Ezenwata said, “In building this BayCare Hospital in Wesley Chapel, we are continuing to live out our mission, which is to ‘Improve the health of all we serve through community-owned services that set the standard for high-quality, compassionate care.’”
He added: “Today we continue to build on the legacy of the founders of BayCare Health System, to care for our community, to be our sisters’ and our brothers’ keeper.”
At the conclusion of the official remarks, Waters and Obeck joined Becky Schulkowski, BayCare’s operations director, Pasco County Commission Chairman Mike Moore and North Tampa Bay Chamber President and CEO Hope Kennedy, to fling a ceremonial shovel of dirt.
BayCare is building its new hospital just down the road from AdventHealth Wesley Chapel, a hospital that opened in 2012. It already has undergone an expansion and added new services to meet the high-growth area’s burgeoning health care demands.
Published December 09, 2020
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