TARPON SPRINGS — Jason Dunkel stressed that Adventist HealthCare’s commitment to the community remains strong when he recently presented Florida Hospital North Pinellas’ request for a long-term lease extension to the City Commission.
City voters will be asked to approve the lease extension in the fall.
"I think each person here tonight knows over the past eight years we’ve established at Florida Hospital North Pinellas a history of providing excellent health care in this community," said Dunkel, the hospital’s president and CEO. Nonprofit Adventist has invested more than $60 million in the S Pinellas Avenue facility since taking over in 2010, leading to nine consecutive semesters of ‘A’ grades, he said.
"We employ 800 people and contribute greatly to the overall economic impact of our local community," he said.
"It’s about being invested locally, long-term,’’ he said. "It’s about establishing a long-term relationship with the people of Tarpon Springs and the North Pinellas community. That’s why we’re here tonight."
Dunkel, a Tampa native who served as the hospital’s vice-president of business development and operations for three years prior to being named CEO a few weeks ago, explained how the hospital is ready to invest $30 million for a new exterior and façade and a new emergency room. Due to the planned commitment, Dunkel said officials want to extend the current lease agreement, which expires in 2040. Adventist wants an additional 30 years, with a pair of options for renewal following the expiration of the extension in 2070 that could take the agreement to 2095.
In addition, the hospital would pay a lump sum of $3 million to the city within 30 days of the signing of the proposed extension, according to Dunkel.
Dunkel then briefed city commissioners on the plans for improvements. They include interior renovations, a new ER on the first floor and an exterior façade featuring an atrium that connects the hospital to the ER.
"These improvements will be good for the hospital, good for the people and good for the community of Tarpon Springs," Mayor Chris Alahouzos said.
"This hospital is essential to our community," Commissioner Rea Sieber said. Commissioner Susan Miccio-Kikta sought assurance the name of Helen Ellis, a longtime member of the hospital’s auxiliary, would remain associated with the facility in some capacity.
"We’re working to maintain the name somewhere on the building," Dunkel said.
Commissioners unanimously approved the proposed leased extension on first reading. The proposal will be put on the ballot on Nov. 6 if it passes a second reading.
"Florida Hospital North Pinellas looks forward to extending our long-standing relationship with the Tarpon Springs community," Dunkel later said via email. "This ER expansion and hospital renovation project allows us to continue to elevate the quality of care we deliver to our patients."