When it comes to opening a new hospital, there are millions of details to consider.
Just ask Becky Schulkowski, president of BayCare Hospital Wesley Chapel,
“If somebody had told me what it was really like to open a hospital, I’d have thought twice about accepting the job. It was the hardest, most stressful and most incredible thing I’ve ever done in my career,” Schulkowski told the crowd at a recent North Tampa Bay Chamber breakfast meeting.
There are challenges one might not consider.
For instance, when a hospital is under construction, since it’s not possible to be in the building yet, visualizing how the building will function is key, she said.
“You have to think of everything you’re going to do in the building,” she said.
So, it’s a matter of taking printed floor plans and attempting to convert them, mentally, into three-dimensional spaces, and then to include the patient’s perspective, while figuring out how the building will function, she explained.
“How is the patient going to come into our ER? Once they do, how are we going to get them to that MRI? How are we going to get them upstairs?
“I am not a creative type, so it was extremely difficult for me to take those printed plans and try to visualize what it really meant,” Schulkowski added.
To help prepare for patients, staff began working in the building in December.
That gave them time to practice how the building would be used.
“We drilled and we trained and we literally had people in stretchers and we pushed them through the hallways and we were like, ‘No, you actually can’t get there from here, we’ve got to do it a different way.’”
It was a lot of figuring it out, the hospital leader said.
“You think you know how it’s going to work, then you get in the building — you realize you have to change it. The patients show up and you realize, you have to tweak it some more,” she said.
It also was important to set the right tone, she added.
“As we were introducing BayCare to the community, the very first thing I wanted our community to see is our values, and our commitment of taking care of the community,” she said.
There’s a sculpture in a prominent spot outside of the building etched with the words representing BayCare’s values.
“Dignity, excellence, respect, responsibility, and trust — that’s what you can expect when you come to a BayCare facility,” the hospital executive said.
When people arrive at the hospital, she wants them to feel at ease.
“We put a lot of thought into what the facility looked like, what you feel when you walk in.
“I’ve been working in hospitals and health care for over 20 years. I walk into a hospital, it feels like home.
“Most people don’t feel that way. (For) most people coming into a hospital — it’s unnerving. You’re scared. Your family member is sick. Maybe it’s some kind of emergency, having surgery.
“We wanted to make you feel calm, welcomed and that we were going to take care of you,” she said.
Having the right team is crucial, too, Schulkowski said.
The hospital president and the other three members of her executive team represent a total of more than 70 combined years in BayCare’s system, she said.
“We spent a lot of time as a leadership team: How are we going to embody that every single day? We did a lot of work on visioning and culture building.
“We had set questions for every single team member interview that we did, because if you were going to work at BayCare Hospital Wesley Chapel, you had to have the same mindset of the leadership team and give that most incredible care to every person who sets foot in our building,” she said.
The talent acquisition team used social media to attract applicants and held a hiring fair. The hospital was able to meet its hiring needs of slightly more than 270 full-time equivalent positions, which works out to about 350 individual people including part-time and labor pool roles.
It helped that the hospital is part of the BayCare system. About 45% of Schulkowski’s staff came from another BayCare location.
“I think one of the things that worked in our favor is that we were the shiny new building. Everybody wants to come and work in the shiny new building, right?”
BayCare Hospital Wesley Chapel
Where: 4501 Bruce B. Downs Blvd., Wesley Chapel
- Opened March 7
- 318,000-square-foot building on a 40-acre site
- 86 private rooms, including 12 intensive care unit beds,
- 20 Emergency Room beds.
- Cost: $246 million
Details: BayCare Wesley Chapel offers comprehensive medical services and health care resources, including an emergency department, an intensive care unit with virtual-monitoring beds, diagnostic services such as imaging and lab, and surgical services. Patient rooms are Alexa-enabled. Patients can ask Alexa to play music, turn on the TV, turn off the TV; raise the blinds, lower the blinds; change the temperature; and, of course, call the nurse.
Published on June 28, 2023.