Jennifer Koszewnik, Pasco County teacher and mother of two, was honored by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at a recent game as the AdventHealth Goal Getter of the Game. Koszewnik, during the pandemic, was diagnosed with breast cancer and is undergoing treatment. She and her husband enjoyed the full Bucs experience, and Jennifer was recognized during the game, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Doctors are continuing to urge those who are eligible to get vaccinated, to mask up, to keep a social distance from others and to practice good hygiene — in a layered effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Doctors from the University of South Florida, BayCare and AdventHealth delivered that message in two separate virtual sessions held last week.
“As we opened the school year, it was truly what I call the perfect storm,” Dr. Christina Canody, pediatric service line medical director for BayCare said, during a Zoom call arranged by U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, who represents Florida’s 14th congressional district.
“Last year, when we opened, we had mandate mask requirements, we had some of the lowest rates of infectivity, positivity and prevalence that we had seen during the pandemic,” Canody said.
“This year, we were at absolute opposite ends of the spectrum.
“We were at very high prevalence and positivity rates, and we continue to see a large number of children impacted,” Canody said.
She emphasized that despite the tremendous increase in pediatric admissions to the hospital, that children generally have a less complicated course of treatment and pediatric death rates remain low.
However, she noted that the hospital chain had 180 pediatric admissions in August, which was the highest number, by far.
“The majority of those are cared for at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital,” the pediatrician said.
“We have seen an uptick in our emergency room visits, and in general, we still have capacity,” she said.
But the increase in pediatric cases, coupled with the surge in adult cases, puts a strain on health care workers, she said.
Previously, many of the hospital’s pediatric staff had transitioned to help care for adults, she said.
The hospitalization of a child also takes a toll on families — both emotionally and financially, and disrupts their daily lives, she said.
She also talked about the importance of children being able to go to school.
She noted that the social isolation during last school year has had a lasting effect on some children’s mental health.
She also noted that many people are coping with the death of relatives, colleagues or friends.
Canody emphasized the need to educate people about the seriousness of the pandemic.
She put it this way: “It’s going to continue to circulate as long as it continues to be transmitted. Most pandemics last, on average, three years.”
She underscored these steps to help reduce the spread:
- Become fully vaccinated, if you’re eligible.
- Wear a face mask. “It’s more important if a person who is infected wears one, but if you wear one as well, you can decrease your risk of being exposed to the virus,” she said.
- Practice good hand hygiene. “For little kids, we try to encourage them to keep their hands to themselves and keep their things to themselves, and also to wash their hands frequently.”
- Stay home, if you’re not feeling well.
“We all have to take care of each other,” Canody said. “It is a little defeating sometimes, when people don’t heed the message. And, I can be honest with you that personally, I’ve had family members who have been affected by this virus. I know people personally who have passed away from this virus.
“The majority of our patients in the hospital are unvaccinated and the majority of the deaths we are seeing now are unvaccinated.”
Dr. Jason Salemi, of the University of South Florida, noted “nine or 10 weeks ago we had about six children being hospitalized every day in the entire state, with COVID-19.
“We’ve had a (more than) 10-fold increase, where more recently, over the past seven days, it’s been about 66 children being hospitalized every day, with confirmed COVID-19,” Salemi said.
The USF doctor also shared statistics regarding numbers of people who are not fully vaccinated in Florida. He said those figures stand at 1 million, among those ages 12 to 17; 5.5 million for those 18 to 64; and 800,000 among those 65 and older.
There’s also 2.8 million children in Florida who are younger than 12 who cannot be vaccinated, he said.
“The most heavily vaccinated group in our society is our seniors, and they are realizing the benefits of vaccination more than any other group,” Salemi said.
The Greater Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce also hosted a Zoom session involving Amanda Maggard, president and CEO of AdventHealth Dade City and AdventHealth Zephyrhills, and Dr. Rodrigo Torres, vice president and chief medical officer for the two hospitals.
Maggard told those listening that “about 90% of our admissions have not been vaccinated. So, the science really is proving true that vaccinations save lives, vaccinations prevent critical illness, so we really want to get the word out in the community and try to increase vaccination. That’s going to be our best way to get through this virus.”
She added that wearing masks continues to be important.
She also touched on the availability of a new monoclonal antibody treatment for patients who are 12 or older. The treatment can prevent hospitalization or death in COVID-19 patients.
The state has opened a number of sites offering the treatment, including the Fasano Hurricane Shelter, at 11611 Denton Ave., in Hudson.
AdventHealth also is offering it at its Dade City campus. (Call the hospital or check its website for details.)
Torres gave a brief history on the pandemic and touched on various strains of the virus.
While much has been reported about the Delta variant, Torres said there’s another strain, known as the lambda, which is being carefully watched by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The lambda was identified in Peru at the end of last year, he said.
“It’s one that’s very virulent and it’s able to escape the mechanisms of how the vaccine works,” Torres said. “We believe that for the time being, we have a good control over this lambda variant, but this is one that actually concerns the CDC the most, out of all of these variants of interest.”
Torres also touched on the fact that the Pfizer vaccine has received FDA approval, and the hospital has recommended its staff get the third shot.
“The data has proven that on your third vaccine, you provide antibodies up to nine times the amount of what you normally would have produced just by keeping your two-vaccine regimen,” Torres said.
Published September 08, 2021
When Moffitt Cancer Center at Wesley Chapel formed a medical partnership with AdventHealth, the idea was to bring Moffitt’s brand of oncology services closer to its patients, said Dr. Timothy Kubal, the cancer center’s senior medical director.
“We’re coming to you, as opposed to you coming to us,” Kubal said, explaining that a lot of Moffitt’s patients were coming from Wesley Chapel, Trinity, Dade City or Land O’ Lakes.
“We wanted to get closer to the patient and Wesley Chapel was a great opportunity to do that with a partner,” he said, during Zoom economic development briefing with members of the North Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce on April 22.
As one of the nation’s top cancer centers, Moffitt wanted to deliver its expertise to patients, rather than them having to drive to its main campus in Tampa. At the same time, Moffitt wanted to partner with a high-quality hospital, he said.
“We can augment what they do; they can augment what we do,” he explained.
Moffitt’s center is located on the campus of AdventHealth Wesley Chapel, at 2600 Bruce B. Downs Blvd.
AdventHealth Wesley Chapel has built an entirely new floor for oncology patients, with the long-term prospect of having up to 50 beds for oncology patients, Kubal said.
The center has 20 exam rooms, 22 infusion bays and a linear accelerator.
“I can treat probably 20 to 30 patients a day on this lin-ac (linear accelerator). It delivers radiation specified to a tumor site,” he said. “We can do any body part, from brain to toe, for radiation oncology out here.
The nice thing about being located closer to patients is that they won’t have to drive as far each day to receive the treatment, he said.
“For example, you live in Wesley Chapel, you’ve got a breast cancer. You need 20 treatments over four weeks. You can get it close to your house, as opposed to going into Moffitt, parking your car, getting set up, getting 3 seconds of radiation to hit that tumor, and then doing the hour back.
“We’ve seen a lot of patients want to transfer their radiation oncology care to this site because they live out in this area. So, this is a big draw. Right now, I think they are 1000% over projected volume.
“Their growth far exceeds what we initially thought,” he said.
The center’s 22 infusion bays are in an area that gives patients a chance to be able to see outside.
That’s important for patients because an infusion can sometimes take up to six hours, the doctor said.
The center will be able to handle infusion services for about 100 to 120 patients a day, he said. At the moment, though, those numbers stand at between 30 to 40 patients day.
In addition to its modern equipment, the center will offer a different oncology approach than what’s been available in the area, he said.
“In the cancer community, you either see everything, or you see one thing.
“So, in the Moffitt community, you might just do, for example, right-sided liver lesions. You might just do surgery on the right side of the liver, when there’s tumors there.
“In the community, commonly, you’re going to do everything.
“But what we’ve found is that it’s hard to do everything. People want to do more than one thing.
“So, what we’ve done here is we’ve hired multiple oncologists to do what we call multi-specialists.”
Besides attracting patients from Pasco and Hillsborough counties, the Wesley Chapel center has patients coming from Lakeland and The Villages, Kubal said.
People coming from Lakeland say that driving the back roads is quicker than going to Tampa, he said.
He added: “Those Villages people are willing to drive. They like to park their own car, though.”
At Moffitt’s main campus, in Tampa, patients must valet. At the Wesley Chapel center, they can do self-parking.
Besides liking to park their own cars, people coming from The Villages often have very specific plans for where they want to eat or shop, after finishing their appointment, Kubal said.
But, they aren’t the only ones having an economic impact on the area, the doctor said.
“The money I make, it goes back into the community,” he said.
“I need to eat. I need to go to the gym. I need to be able to have a meeting and grab a beer at the end of the day. My kids need schooling,” he said.
The same economic impacts are true for other staffers, too, because many of them move into Wesley Chapel after they’ve been hired.
Published April 28, 2021
Lace up the tennis shoes and prep those rackets and balls for play — because the much-hyped Sarah Vande Berg Tennis & Wellness Center is now open to the public.
What began as drawings and plans on paper nearly four years ago is finally a reality in the form a $4.9 million athletic complex situated on 8.25 acres of land at 6585 Simons Road in Zephyrhills.
The complex enjoyed a soft opening on Sept. 21. A grand opening celebration is set for Oct. 17, from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The center is now open every day, from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The facility’s outdoor centerpiece is 11 regulation outdoor tennis courts (nine clay surface, two hard surface), eight pickleball courts and four padel courts — two of the world’s fastest-growing racquet sports.
Attached is a nearly 8,000-square-foot indoor club housing cutting-edge health and wellness amenities that promote training and recovery.
There are rooms dedicated for cryotherapy, salt therapy, bio/neuro feedback therapy, massage and yoga. There’s also a 1,300-square-foot fitness center featuring workout equipment, including recumbent bikes, rowers and ellipticals.
The indoor clubhouse also has a full restaurant and cafe operated by Land O’ Lakes-based caterer Mark Vesh.
Though membership-based, guest users are encouraged to make court rentals and partake in other amenities. Walk-ins are welcome and any specific questions can be answered by the facility’s front desk manager.
Even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, patrons are wasting no time getting their game on.
For instance, a 30-member coed pickleball group from Zephyrhills reserved courts for a mini event on the facility’s first open morning.
The complex is named in honor of Sarah Vande Berg, a former Zephyrhills High School district champion and three-time state qualifier who died in an automobile accident in South Carolina at the age of 21, in October 2015.
Her father, Todd Vande Berg, is the longtime planning director for Zephyrhills.
The tennis center venture is a public-private partnership between the City of Zephyrhills and Pascal Collard, a longtime tennis pro and instructor serving as the facility’s CEO.
The municipality owns the state-of-the-art tennis facility, but Collard is responsible for its day-to-day operations and programming.
Collard has been involved with the project since October 2017, when his tennis management firm, Tennis P.R.O. Florida LLC, was hired by the city.
Finally seeing the complex come to life is a relief for Collard, noting he invested “a lot of time and money and energy and passion” in conjunction with Zephyrhills during the last several years.
Said Collard, “It’s a lifetime goal and a lifetime dream that’s come true to be able to run a place and really do something that’s touched the community and that will touch people from all over the world.”
In running the facility, he brings a diverse tennis background to the table.
Collard previously served as tennis director at Saddlebrook in Wesley Chapel and The Merion Cricket Club in Haverford, Pennsylvania. His personal training includes working with several widely known tennis pros, including Younes El Aynaoui and Martin Verkerk, both of whom coincidentally ranked as high as No. 14 in the ATP Tour rankings back in 2003.
Many of the other 36 total staffers at the Sarah Vande Berg Tennis & Wellness Center similarly bring aboard respectable pedigrees.
The facility’s tennis director is Rene Moller, a former touring pro director at Saddlebrook Tennis Academy who’s been a full-time coach to John Isner, the highest-ranked American men’s tennis player, as well as Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz, who’s ranked No. 31 in the world.
Another notable tennis instructor is Mika Todo, a former professional WTA international tennis player from Japan who’s been working as a tennis coach for the past 20 years, and successfully trained junior players who won the title in the All-Japan Junior U12 and U14 tournament.
Also, former NFL defensive lineman Mel Williams will serve as a fitness coach and specialist in tennis footwork and plyometrics. He played for the New Orleans Saints, the Washington Redskins, the San Francisco 49ers and the Miami Dolphins in the early 2000s.
A host for pro tournaments
The facility is beginning to deliver on its promise as a tourism driver for East Pasco, by drawing big-ticket national and international events.
Collard said the complex will host a sanctioned professional women’s tournament in late January that’ll offer a $25,000 grand prize for the winner and points in world rankings. The event is expected to draw 32 players representing a number of different countries and nationalities.
A corresponding men’s tennis tournament organized by retired professional Johan Kriek and sanctioned by the International Tennis Federation also is in the works, Collard said. Kriek won 14 professional singles and eight doubles titles, ranking as high as seventh in the world in the 1980s. “It’s going to be very impressive and exciting,” Collard said of the forthcoming events.
A community hangout
At a hard-hat tour back in June, Collard explained his visioning for the complex is to become a community hangout of sorts, where users do more than simply play tennis with friends then leave and go about their day.
“It started with tennis, but it now became a destination,” said Collard. “Basically, the concept here is, ‘I’m not doing one hour of sport and I go home. I’m coming here to play tennis, then maybe I do a cryotherapy session and then maybe I go eat here because there’s a full restaurant.’ You can bring your entire family…so it’s really unique.”
In coming years, the facility could expand even further. The northeast corner of the 8-plus-acre property is reserved for a 30,000-square-foot indoor multipurpose sports complex, enough room to accommodate another four full-size tennis courts. However, the addition had a setback when Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed a $1 million appropriation for the project from the state’s budget.
In opening amid ongoing coronavirus concerns, the facility is adhering to prescribed health and safety precautions, Collard explained.
Masks are required inside the clubhouse, but not while playing outdoor racquet sports.
Staffers also have installed about 30 umbrella tables in a roomy outdoor space for patrons to eat, drink, relax and watch play, in a socially distanced manner.
There are also plans to install a temperature screening gate before entering the building in the coming week, in partnership with AdventHealth.
Collard summed up the varied safety measures: “We have sanitizer everywhere. We have masks for everybody.”
As for next month’s grand opening, Collard promises a “big, big wow factor.”
Collard added: “We have a lot of surprises. It’s going to be pretty, pretty amazing what’s going to happen right there.”
Between now and then, visitors also may notice spruced-up landscaping on the property.
Collard noted that landscaping is always put in last.
For more information, call (813) 361-6660, email , or visit SVBtenniscenter.com.
Published September 23, 2020
AdventHealth had been providing free testing for coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) at locations in its West Florida Division but discontinued it because of issues with a third-party lab, according to a news release from AdventHealth.
“To meet the unprecedented demand for COVID-19 testing, we rely on nationally accredited third-party labs to assist us. Unfortunately, one of these labs processing a significant number of our public tests has been unable to fulfill its obligation,” the health care provider said, in the release.
“AdventHealth has terminated its contract with this lab, and we share in the disappointment and frustration this situation has created. We are deeply sorry for the inconvenience and uncertainty it has caused.
“This issue impacts more than 8,000 people throughout AdventHealth West Florida Division. “This situation has created unacceptable delays, and we do not have confidence in the reliability of the tests. We are working diligently to notify and appropriately accommodate those who are impacted. They will be receiving a letter from us and may also receive a phone call.
The individuals fall into two categories:
- Those whose samples were processed, and whose results provided by the lab are not deemed reliable.
- Those whose samples are at the lab in question and are part of the backlog will not be tested; therefore, no result will be available.
AdventHealth has directed the lab to destroy those samples, in accordance with the law, the release says.
In the case of unreliable results, there were individuals with unreliable positive results, that will require retesting, AdventHealth says.
Also, Individuals with unreliable negative results who are symptomatic need to seek care and may require retesting.
Also, individuals with unreliable negative results who are asymptomatic but request to be retested will be offered testing pending availability, the health care provider adds.
Mike Schulz, president and CEO of AdventHealth West Florida, addressed the issue in a statement: “It has been a privilege to serve our community during these unprecedented times, and we remain committed to our promise to keep you safe and provide the best care possible.
“We are taking ownership of these issues and are reaching out to the thousands of those who were impacted to help make it easy for them to understand the next step in their care,” he said.
Published May 20, 2020
With its slew of food options, new performances, live entertainment and other activities, the 73rd annual Pasco County Fair is aiming to make an impression.
The fair’s theme is “It’s An Adventure,” and the show will run Feb. 17 through Feb. 23 at the Pasco County Fairgrounds, 36722 State Road 52 in Dade City.
Details about the festival were shared at a Jan. 21 Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting, hosted at the fairgrounds.
The fair kicks off with a parade in downtown Dade City on Feb. 17 at 11:30 a.m. As usual, there will be marching bands, colorful floats, mounted horse units and more. The parade’s grand marshal will be country music star Billy Dean.
“We are excited about that,” said annual fair chairman and director Tracy Thompson. “We think that’ll attract some more people to come out to the parade.”
In the way of entertainment, there figures to be a little something for everyone during the course of the weeklong event, Thompson told chamber members. “We promise you there’ll be lots of adventures this year, in entertainment,” he said.
One of the major headliners is Jay Mattioli, a magician illusionist who was featured on Season 3 of “America’s Got Talent,” and became one of the youngest magicians ever to receive the International Brotherhood of Magicians’ Champion of Magic award. A sought-after entertainer on luxury cruise lines and for corporate events, Mattioli performs magic with live animals, levitates microphones and other illusions.
He will perform daily on the Back Porch Theatre.
Keeping with the adventure motif, the fair will take on a bit of a Jurassic Park feel from “Walking With Giants,” an interactive, California-based show that will feature moving animatronic dinosaurs that children can crawl and play on, and pose for a picture with. The show will be in the Schrader Building Entertainment Area.
Children also may get a kick out of another daily show called “Pirates of the Colombian Caribbean,” in the Kiddie Land Entertainment Area.
It’s an aerial high-wire thrill extravaganza, where pirate-dressed performers sword fight, rope slide, and take on other stunts on high-wire 20 feet in the air on top of a giant 60-foot pirate ship and a 35-foot rotating “wheel of death.”
“Kids love pirates, so it’ll be a cool show,” Thompson said.
A fair staple — Trenton Tye’s Purgatory Ironworks — returns this year, at the Clayton Way Entertainment Area. It features 1800s-era blacksmith demonstrations on how to make horseshoes, instruments and other tools, from a guy who’s been featured on The History Channel’s “Forged in Fire.”
While all that is going on, the Dan Cannon Auditorium again will be hopping with a variety of music choices throughout the week.
A bluegrass show will be headlined by Little Roy and Lizzy, who Thompson called “legendary” and “icons” in the bluegrass world. They are scheduled to perform on Feb. 19 at 6 p.m.
A gospel show will be headlined by Greater Vision, an award-winning band based out of Morristown, Tennessee. They are scheduled to perform Feb. 20 at 6 p.m. “We expect a full auditorium that night,” Thompson said.
There also will be a Latin flair, with a concert from Baja Zero, a Mexican-themed music group made up of Florida natives. That particular show, scheduled for Feb. 23 at 2 p.m., is already drawing a buzz, as Thompson said there’s been “numerous comments on people excited about this coming up at the fair.”
A new feature at the fairgrounds is a rest and relaxation area, provided by AdventHealth, Thompson said. That area also will have phone-charging stations.
Foodies will find plenty to like at this year’s fair with myriad offerings available along the independent midway, said Jim Ward, vice president of the Pasco County Fair Association and the event’s concessions manager.
In addition to traditional fair grub, such as pizza, corn dogs and cotton candy, Ward said there’ll be new vendors offering items like deep-fried tacos, fried ravioli on a stick, a grilled cheese bar, and even alligator meat — in the form of gator tail, gator nuggets and gator gumbo.
In total, the fair expects about two dozen food vendors, Ward said.
“For a small county fair, we do have some top food out there,” Ward said, noting every year fair organizers try to attract exciting new food vendors to the event.
Those visiting the fairgrounds may notice a few upgrades on the property, too.
Pasco Fair president R.J. Huss said the Higgins Hall building underwent a $200,000 renovation, equipped with “state-of-the-art, industry-leading vendor electrical hookups.” The renovations come after a transformer caught fire in the building at last year’s fair, knocking out power for some vendors.
Higgins Hall and the Schrader Building, and Poultry have been freshly painted, too, Huss said. The fair association president also mentioned a brand-new sound system is being installed in the Agriculture Barn.
Meanwhile, Huss said the fair association is looking at other measures “to try to improve the aesthetics of the ground” for future years.
For more information about the fair, visit PascoCountyFair.com.
Pasco County Fair
When: Feb. 17 through Feb. 23 (Hours vary)
What: Rides, food, games, entertainment, livestock and exhibits
Where: Pasco County Fairgrounds, 36722 State Road 52, Dade City
Cost: Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 6 through 12; parking is free. Discounted gate and ride tickets are available online at PascoCountyFair.com.
Info: Visit PascoCountyFair.com, call (352) 567-6678, or email ">.
Published February 05, 2020
The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office is launching a new unit aimed to better serve the needs of people facing significant mental health issues.
The new unit — called the Mental Health and Threat Assessment Team (MHTAT) — will feature six deputies, two caseworkers, a clinical social worker, a sergeant and a lieutenant, who will collaborate with local behavioral health providers to provide tailored, long-term programs for citizens in need.
The team’s primary task is to keep tabs on the county’s Baker Act repeats — through a proactive approach that includes frequent visitations, welfare checks, expedited behavioral health resources and criminal justice diversion programs.
An individual struggling with addiction may be referred to outpatient substance abuse treatment, for instance. Or, someone undergoing financial struggles may be referred to Pasco County Human Services and the county’s homeless coalition.
The unit will have partnerships with BayCare Behavioral Health, Chrysalis Health, Novus Medical Detox Center, HCA Florida Hospitals, AdventHealth and others, “working towards a common goal in our community,” Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco said.
The program ultimately will put the agency “ahead of the curve” in crime prevention, the sheriff said.
“We see mental health and substance abuse are the two drivers of criminal justice issues in our county. That’s why we’re creating this unit,” Nocco said.
It’s also about crisis mitigation, said Lt. Toni Roach, who will head up the MHTAT unit.
“Everybody has a baseline, and when they start to dip below that baseline we can provide some intervention strategies, connect them with a case manager or whatever other behavioral health resources are in the community that could help them stabilize,” Roach said.
The unit is expected to be up and running by October. It will cost roughly $1.5 million annually.
About 11 percent of the sheriff’s calls for service in 2018 were mental-health related.
That included roughly 3,400 Baker Act reports and more than 2,100 calls involving suicides or suicide attempts.
Of those reports, 503 individuals had multiple interactions with the agency, including some who’ve been Baker Acted as many as four or five times, Nocco said.
The MHTAT will be concentrating on the population who have had multiple interactions with the county, Nocco said. The unit will help divert those people from having to call 911 and thereby free patrol deputies to respond more quickly to urgent or violent calls.
As an example, the sheriff pointed out that, last year alone, one individual with a history of mental illness called county dispatch 124 times.
But, through a personal visit from the sheriff’s office back in May, those calls have stopped, the sheriff said. “A lot of times they just need to talk to somebody. They just need somebody to help them out.”
“It’s all about connection,” added Roach. “Interacting with anybody is just that communication piece, being able to sit down with somebody and have a conversation with people, to listen to what’s going on, what are their concerns, what are their barriers.”
And, it’s those types of soft skills that will be required for those selected to the 11-person unit.
“It takes a special person to want to be in this unit,” Nocco said. “You want somebody that has that compassion and care. Somebody who says, ‘I’m not just going to be here for an hour, I might be here two to three hours working with somebody.’”
In recent years, the sheriff’s office has placed an emphasis on training law enforcement personnel to respond better to people who are mentally ill.
The office has an eight-hour foundational course in mental health first aid and a 40-hour Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) program held quarterly in Shady Hills. About 50 percent of the agency’s patrol deputies are CIT certified.
Published July 03, 2019
The Florida Legislature’s decision to drop the requirement for a Certificate of Need review for new hospitals is causing BayCare Health System to reconsider its plans for a hospital in Pasco County.
The hospital chain had received a preliminary OK on its Certificate of Need request for a 60-bed hospital on a 111-acre site at the northeast quadrant of Interstate 75 and Overpass Road.
It was pushing ahead with planning for the new facility, despite a challenge filed by AdventHealth’s hospitals in Wesley Chapel, Zephyrhills and Dade City.
A hearing on the appeal had been set for August.
But, the repeal of the requirement for a Certificate of Need has created a wide open market for the establishment of hospitals.
The repeal is causing BayCare to take another look at its plans, said BayCare spokeswoman Lisa Razler.
It’s still too early to say how the change will affect the health care system’s plans, Razler said.
“We have a whole new lens to look through,” Razler said. “We’re going to have to take a step back and re-evaluate because with that new legislation, anyone can put a hospital anywhere.”
The health care system was disappointed by the Legislature’s action, Razler said.
“We believed in the planning process,” she said.
Proponents for axing the Certificate of Need requirement said the repeal would promote more competition.
Razler said the issue is more complicated.
“It’s not straight up supply and demand, when it comes to health care, because of all of nuances involved,” Razler said.
BayCare will need to review its plans “to determine what’s the best option, given the new landscape,” the hospital spokeswoman said.
BayCare had been pursuing the hospital in Pasco because of the dramatic population growth and increasing demand for health services.
The construction of the hospital was expected to create 300 jobs, and once it became fully operational, it would need about 300 team members, hospital officials told The Laker/Lutz News in previous interviews.
BayCare had planned to provide these services at the new hospital:
- Emergency services for adults and children
- Intensive care services
- Obstetrical care services
- Diagnostic lab imaging
- Physical rehabilitation
- Behavioral support services
Hospital officials previously said it typically takes about three years from the time a hospital is approved until the physical structure is operating.
At this point, it remains unclear, whether those plans will be pursued.
Published May 29, 2019
BayCare Health Systems is pushing forward in its quest to open a new hospital in Wesley Chapel, despite a challenge filed by AdventHealth’s hospitals in Wesley Chapel, Zephyrhills and Dade City.
Speaking on BayCare’s behalf, Todd Jones recently outlined the health care system’s plans for a 60-bed hospital that would be built on a 111-acre site at the northeast quadrant of Interstate 75 and Overpass Road.
He shared BayCare’s vision for the hospital with about 120 businessmen and businesswomen at the North Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce’s monthly breakfast, at Pasco-Hernando State College’s Porter Campus at Wiregrass Ranch in Wesley Chapel.
BayCare wants to put a new hospital along the I-75 corridor because of the dramatic population growth, and an increased demand for health services, said Jones, who is vice president of ambulatory experience and operations for BayCare Health System.
“Anytime you have population growth, there is going to be an increased demand for health services,” he said.
“We want to recruit new primary care and specialty providers to the community.
“One of things that’s frustrating for patients — and this is the thing that affects your health — is when you can’t gain access to the care that you need in some way.”
Beyond recruiting the professionals to work at the hospital, there will be a ripple effect — with providers opening up offices nearby, Jones predicted.
BayCare also wants to provide additional services that would not be based at the hospital, Jones added.
BayCare also plans to do community outreach, and to provide wellness and education activities, Jones said.
It plans to partner with education providers to help provide a path forward for both high school and college students, Jones added.
The construction of the hospital is expected to create 300 jobs, and once it becomes fully operational, BayCare anticipates needing about 300 team members, Jones said.
The proposed services at the hospital include:
- Emergency services for adults and children
- Intensive care unit
- Obstetrical care services
- Diagnostic lab imaging
- Physical rehabilitation
- Behavioral support services
Jones told the audience, people often want to know: “What’s it going to look like? How’s it going to function?”
It will be similar in appearance to BayCare’s St. Joseph’s Hospital-South, which opened in Riverview in 2015. That hospital used the template from St. Joseph’s Hospital-North, which opened in Lutz in 2010.
“We will use the same architects,” Jones said, using whatever was learned during the St. Joseph’s Hospital-South project, much like that project used what was learned at St. Joseph’s Hospital-North.
“The goal is, you always want to improve upon yourself,” he said.
It typically takes about three years from the time a hospital is approved, until the physical structure is operating.
The hospital has received preliminary approval from the state for a Certificate of Need, but that has been challenged, so the process will take some time to work through.
BayCare has received word that a hearing is scheduled Aug. 13 through Aug. 22, according to Tiffany Scalone, media relations coordinator for St. Joseph’s Hospitals.
Jones told the North Tampa Bay Chamber crowd: “We will work through the process for the Certificate of Need. We anticipate it will be resolved by October.”
BayCare understands the value of the state Certificate of Need process, Jones said, noting it is intended “to protect the community, so that you don’t overbuild services and you do something the community actually can afford.
“We support that process. We feel like it challenges us to make sure that all of the things that we thought through actually do support the community,” Jones said.
Beyond its plans for the hospital, BayCare also anticipates bringing in some other services.
“We feel like we can get to the community faster with some of the diagnostic services that are needed in the community,” he said. “We’re looking at another location for our outpatient services. Right now, the things that we have identified immediately are around laboratory and imaging, and also urgent care.”
Licia Tavalaiccio, a real estate broker who lives in the area, said she’s excited about the prospect of the hospital coming into the area.
But, she noted: “My concern is traffic. Do we have a plan?””
Jones said the hospital will reach out in the community to involve them, as the hospital planning progresses.
“We would like you to participate. We want you to have input,” Jones said, noting that community participation also extends to helping to identify the community’s needs.
“We try to provide service for the patients where they need it,” Jones said. “We come to you.”
Published February 13, 2019
Florida Hospital’s parent company, Adventist Health System, will change its name and the name of all of its wholly owned entities to AdventHealth, effective Jan. 2.
That means 11,000 new signs are going up across the country to signal the change.
Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel will have an AdventHealth sign on its main building, and will say AdventHealth at Wesley Chapel on its door.
The system’s hospitals in Dade City and Zephyrhills will also get new names as part of a rebranding effort that aims to make life simpler for the patients under the provider’s care, said Denyse Bales-Chubb, president and CEO at what will become AdventHealth Wesley Chapel.
“We want to create a highly integrated, connected network, that is all branded under the same name, so that people can identify our services and our care, throughout whatever community they may be (in),” the hospital executive said.
“Our plans and our goals are to continually work towards that integrated delivery care network, and to become a national health care system, that is recognized throughout the states that we’re in and to continue to expand those services.”
Right now, the health care provider operates 48 hospitals in nine states, Bales-Chubb said.
“That’s the smallest part of our operation. In addition to that, then, we have literally hundreds of outpatient services. We have home health. We have long-term care. We have clinics. We have free standing EDs. We have physician offices, and they are all branded under a different name,” she said.
As part of its rebranding effort, Adventist took all 80,000 employees through a standardized training session, Bales-Chubb said.
“We wanted to have the same service standards across all of our hospitals, because when you change your name, it should mean something,” she said.
“We want to make sure that accessing health care, navigating through our system is easy for our patients and their families,” she said.
The health care provider also wants to deliver a level of care that people seek out wherever they go, Bales-Chubb said, “because they know it’s going to be different, and they know it’s going to be special.
“Our goal is to never discharge a patient,” she said.
So, when a patient is in the hospital, they work with people who are called navigators within the hospital to help the patient get whatever appointments for whatever follow-up services they need, she explained.
That can mean going back to their primary care physician, or receiving services from a variety of providers, she said.
“If they need to go and have physical therapy, then that’s navigating them to that physical therapy.
But then, when patients see the common name across the system, she said, “they know that they are getting that continuum of care,” Bales-Chubb said.
Florida Hospital Center Ice also is being renamed. Its new name will be AdventHealth Center Ice.
Published January 2, 2019