NEW PORT RICHEY — Medical Center of Trinity, the new hospital that hosted an open house last month in anticipation of a December launch, will sit empty until next year. And, once the move to the Trinity facility is approved, the old Community Hospital site in New Port Richey will be left without an emergency room. Only the psychiatric ward will remain.
Hospital officials attributed the moving delay to state inspections taking longer than expected.
"A survey of a building our size will take additional time, and while a disappointment, this is not unexpected for a complex construction like ours," spokeswoman Mary Sommise said in a news release.
Hospital officials originally expected to continue to operate an emergency room and psychiatric ward on the New Port Richey site once the hospital moved to Trinity. But they decided instead to close the old ER after state regulators said that the extensive renovations needed would require services to be interrupted.
"Unfortunately, since our ER is in an older portion of the building, a tremendous amount of construction will need to occur therefore, the Emergency Department will close on the day that we move patients to the Trinity campus," the news release said.
Most of the new Trinity hospital's first floor has been fully inspected. It includes all service areas such as emergency care, surgical suites, diagnostic imaging, heart and vascular suites, pharmacy, laboratory, food and nutrition and comprises 200,157 square feet.
The remaining three floors have had 80 percent inspected and will soon be completed, officials said.
The news about the ER came as no surprise to New Port Richey City Council member Robert Marlowe.
"I had heard that was a possibility. If I have to go the ER, I guess I'll have to go to North Bay," said Marlowe, referring to nearby Morton Plant North Bay Hospital.
Marlowe said he wondered whether hospital officials would end up following through with plans for the psychiatric ward given the lack of an ER.
"It usually is a feeder," he said.
But Community Hospital officials said they have received approval from the state to keep psych services downtown "subject to some structural modifications we will move forward with."
City leaders, who expressed concern when HCA-owned Community Hospital announced plans to move its operations to more well-heeled Trinity and leave only ER and mental health services in New Port Richey, were matter of fact when they learned ER plans had been scrapped.
"The city is trying to work with the hospital in trying to find a use for that particular site," Mayor Bob Consalvo said. "We know the challenges with that. An old hospital site is very difficult to reuse. We're working with coming up with solutions."
Consalvo said he expects the process to take a long time.
"We're talking five, 10, 15 years before anything is out there," he said.