LARGO — As Largo Medical Center prepares to celebrate its past with the arrival of its 40th anniversary this year, CEO Anthony Degina says the hospital is also looking to the future with a series of projects designed to enhance capacity and services.
The first at the hospital’s main campus on 14th Street SW kicked off in April with the construction of an 18,000-square-foot addition that will add 26 beds. It is expected to be finished in 18 months.
"We’ve had growth that has led to capacity issues so the addition of the 26 beds is really to help accommodate those issues, particularly during season," Degina said.
The other part of the project, which will total just over $15 million, includes the renovation of an observation unit on the second floor to create 3,000 square feet for a four-bed critical-care unit for the hospital’s Transplant Institute.
"Our transplant program is really one of our key services that we offer to the community and to the region," Degina said.
He said kidney and liver transplant patients had been going to a surgical intensive-care unit, but the specialized nature of the needs of those patients required a separate ICU with a dedicated staff.
Dr. Hussein Osman-Mohamed, who heads the transplant program, said the expansion will enable the hospital to continue to grow the Transplant Institute.
Degina said the hospital also will be adding a second 64-slice CT scanner to the radiology department with specialty software for cardiac and surgical uses. He said the cost of the equipment and installation will be about $1 million.
Degina’s also excited about a project for a medical office building the hospital acquired 18 months ago. He said the site has been empty for more than eight years and it includes property all the way to West Bay Drive, so it will help extend the campus.
"It is completely gutted to the studs, so a lot of infrastructure work has to be done before we are ready to begin occupying it with various medical services, position offices and things of that nature," he said, noting that the infrastructure improvements and buildout of the space will probably cost about $10 million.
Another benefit of the new office building is that it will allow the Jersey College of Nursing to extend its footprint beyond the hospital’s campus on Indian Rocks Road.
Degina said the hospital-based, nurse residency program, which has partnered with LMC since 2016, will build a high-end simulation center that will both support the nursing program and be an opportunity for students to train from all over the region.
Degina said he’s happy to have such a program associated with the hospital and that the program is expanding significantly at the Indian Rocks building.
"We’ve gone from an initial class of 20 to now we have 109 students," he said. "And as they continue to build out space here, we’re eventually going to have a nursing school with 240 students. When you think of the challenges we have in hospital care relative to nursing availability, creating our own nursing school and partnership with Jersey College has just been a great opportunity for us to establish a pipeline of excellent nurses to take care of our patients."
Also on the Indian Rocks campus, Degina said he is awaiting approval from HCA West Florida for a $31 million expansion of the behavioral health program from 71 to 105 beds.
Part of that would be a 16-bed adolescent unit that would be a completely new service for LMC.
"We already are one of the largest providers of behavioral health services," he said. "Adding these 34 beds along with all of the outpatient and partial hospitalization programs we offer makes us really the most comprehensive program in the area."