It’s less than three years old, but Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel is already experiencing growing pains.
Denyse Bales-Chubb, president/CEO of Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel shared details of the hospital’s $78 million expansion plans at the April 7 breakfast of the Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce meeting.
Wesley Chapel’s growth is fueling the need for the hospital’s expansion, Bales-Chubb told the gathering at the conference center at Pasco-Hernando State College’s Porter Campus at Wiregrass Ranch. About 90 people were registered for the breakfast.
The hospital executive cited six new housing developments going in, totaling more than 5,000 houses.
“I’m hearing that Raymond James is going to be building here,” she added.
She continued ticking down the list.
“We had the Super Walmart that went in, since I’ve been here. The outlet mall is coming. The ice and sports complex — which we are a part of — the Mercedes Benz dealer, several hotels, some assisted living (facilities) that are coming in; there’s tremendous growth in the community.
“We need to make sure that we are growing and meeting the needs of this community,” Bales-Chubb added.
To prepare for increased demand, the hospital began last November to start developing plans for expansion.
The project that is set to begin construction in August will add 62 new private patient rooms, 17 emergency rooms, four surgical suites, 16 prep and observation rooms, and ancillary services to support patient care.
The hospital’s current three-story center wing will grow taller — becoming a six-floor building when the expansion work is done. A new three-story building will be constructed, to connect the hospital’s two existing wings.
When finished, the expansion will add nearly 112,000 square feet of new construction and nearly 11,000 square feet of renovated space to the hospital at 2600 Bruce B. Downs Blvd., in Wesley Chapel.
“We expect to have actual ground crews here in August, and we will be doing a groundbreaking Aug. 5,” Bales-Chubb said. “We hope to get their certificate of occupancy in November 2016, with a grand opening of December 2016,” she said.
The hospital also plans to add 160 parking spaces for employees and staff.
The larger hospital will need more staff, too. Bales-Chubb predicts the hospital will hire the equivalent of 300 full-time employees.
The larger quarters and increased staff will enable the hospital to handle the growing demand for hospital beds and increased emergency visits.
Even with the current demand, “if you came and tried to find a bed, you’re going to have a wait before that bed is available,” Bales-Chubb said.
“We really do have patients that are literally waiting in our ED (emergency department) to get into an inpatient bed, because not everybody checks out at 11 o’clock, like you do at a hotel. It is a constant moving of patients, in and out,” she said.
The hospital’s emergency room is busy, too.
The emergency room has 18 beds, and as of December, year to date, each of those beds had 1,880 visits.
“So, that’s busy,” Bales-Chubb said. “We have a lot of patients going through our ED.”
Stan Giannet, provost at the Porter Campus at Wiregrass Ranch, said the college already enjoys a solid relationship with the hospital, and the expansion will likely provide even more opportunities for students at his campus.
The hospital donates to the college’s scholarship fund for students in health occupations, he said. It also provides opportunities for clinical placements.
“Clinical placements are incredibly important for our students to apply the theoretical classroom knowledge to the real world,” Giannet said. “Having clinical placements already at Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel has been very fruitful for students, and we’re grateful for that.”
The hospital’s expansion bodes well for graduates from Porter Campus, Giannet added, because it creates more employment opportunities for students graduating from its nursing, surgical technology and pharmacy technician programs.
Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel is part of the Adventist Health System, a nonprofit health network that has 23 hospitals throughout the state.
Published April 15, 2015