Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Open house on Saturday for expanded Morton Plant North Bay Hospital


The Beatles released four albums. The miniskirt made its debut. Cigarette packs got their first warning labels. A gallon of gas cost 31 cents. President Lyndon B. Johnson increased the number of troops in Vietnam by 50,000.

The year was 1965. And on Sept. 1, the West Pasco Hospital opened with 50 beds on Madison Street.

It looked more like an elementary school.

"It was a very small hospital," recalled County Commissioner Ann Hildebrand, who was around when the hospital first opened and now serves on its board of directors. "Back in that time a lot of people went to Pinellas County for a hospital."

Today, the little country hospital that evolved into nonprofit Morton Plant North Bay Hospital is getting ready to unveil the biggest expansion in its nearly 45-year history.

The $49 million project nearly doubles the size of the current hospital, which continued to operate while construction was going on.

"It's like trying to change the engine of a 747 while you're in flight," said John Couris, the hospital's chief operating officer. He said that by doubling the hospital's size and upgrading to the latest technology, the expansion essentially creates a new hospital.

The expansion features a three-story, 56,000-square-foot Starkey Medical Tower, named because of the $1 million donation from the pioneer ranching family (Marsha Starkey also serves on the hospital board). The new wing adds private rooms, a critical care unit, cardiac care unit, a medical surgical unit, new respiratory care services and conference rooms.

The rooms look more like a resort than a treatment center, with faux hardwood vinyl floors, nougat colored walls and bathroom countertops typically seen in high-end homes.

Each room has a mirror on a wall that touches a window so that patients can easily see outside. A glass-framed print doubles as a dry erase board so patients can see who the nurse on-duty is, what the day's treatment includes and other information.

"Are you sure we can write on this?" one nurse asked.

Records are all electronic, and stations in the intensive care unit are decentralized so that nurses can stay close. Beds also are motorized so staff won't strain their backs moving patients.

"They practically drive themselves," said Shannon Hancock, the hospital's director of nursing.

Little touches, such as sink sensors that automatically shut off water and blinds that are enclosed in glass, also help in infection control.

The new 45,000-square-foot medical office houses outpatient care and offers expanded four-bed sleep disorders center, outpatient lab, outpatient rehabilitation services, and an enclosed connected walkway to the main hospital.

The additions were built using a method called "evidence-based design." That's the practice of building hospitals in ways that research has shown to help improve patient care and outcomes.

To make the new wings as user-friendly as possible, doctors, nurses and other staff were invited to come in and simulate care so items could be placed in the best possible spots.

Staff would put sticky notes in areas where they thought outlets should be, for example.

Outside, a retention pond is being surrounded by walking path.

Executives see the expansion not as keeping pace, but as positioning the hospital for the long term.

"Pasco County is a growing county," Couris said. "We have to be ready to serve the needs of the community."

North Bay committed to the major expansion after losing a bid nearly eight years ago to move its operations out of New Port Richey to Trinity. State officials gave the Trinity green light instead to HCA-owned Community Hospital, which has said it expects its new campus to open in 2011.

Lisa Buie can be reached at or (813) 909-4604.

By the numbers

March 1 Opening date for Morton Plant North Bay Hospital expansion.

$49M Cost of hospital expansion.

122 Number of beds before the expansion.

154 Number of beds after the expansion.

56,000 Square footage of three-story Starkey Medical Tower.

45,000 Square footage of three-story medical arts building, which is already open.

500 Number of employees.

1965 Year hospital first opened. It was then county owned and called West Pasco Hospital.

Source: Morton Plant North Bay Hospital


Tour an expanded Morton Plant North Bay

WHAT: Open house for

Morton Plant North Bay Hospital expansion.

WHEN: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.


WHERE: 6600 Madison St., New Port Richey

WHAT'S AVAILABLE: Family-friendly games, face painting, balloon art, magic, music, food and drinks. The New Port Richey Police Department and McGruff the Crime Dog will offer free fingerprinting and safety tips for kids. You can also tour the new Starkey Medical Tower, slated to open March 1, as well as the new medical arts building. Free health screenings also will be offered, and people also will have an opportunity to donate blood. The Pasco Health Department will provide free H1N1 flu shots.

COST: Free. Registration is recommended but not required. To register or for information, call (727) 953-6906.

Open house on Saturday for expanded Morton Plant North Bay Hospital 02/18/10 [Last modified: Thursday, February 18, 2010 11:39pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Search for missing Army helicopter crew suspended in Hawaii


    HONOLULU — Officials have suspended the search for five Army soldiers who were aboard a helicopter that crashed during offshore training in Hawaii last week.

    Water safety officials hand over possible debris from an Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crash to military personnel stationed at a command center in a harbor, Wednesday in Haleiwa, Hawaii, a day after. an Army helicopter with five on board crashed several miles off Oahu's North Shore. Officials  suspended the search for five Army soldiers in a helicopter crash during offshore training in Hawaii on Monday. [Associated Press]
  2. Rubio praises Trump for 'excellent' speech on Afghanistan


    Sen. Marco Rubio praised President Donald Trump's "excellent" speech on Afghanistan. Sen. Bill Nelson was less effusive but agreed with the goal.

  3. Gov. Rick Scott blasts report of shifting words on Charlottesville


    Gov. Rick Scott, one of the most scripted politicians in modern Florida history, said Monday that "both sides” bear blame for Charlottesville.

  4. Record $417 million awarded in lawsuit linking baby powder to cancer


    LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles jury on Monday ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay a record $417 million to a hospitalized woman who claimed in a lawsuit that the talc in the company's iconic baby powder causes ovarian cancer when applied regularly for feminine hygiene.

    A bottle of Johnson's baby powder is displayed. On Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, a Los Angeles County Superior Court spokeswoman confirmed that a jury has ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $417 million in a case to a woman who claimed in a lawsuit that the talc in the company's iconic baby powder causes ovarian cancer when applied regularly for feminine hygiene. [Associated Press]
  5. Search under way for missing sailors; Navy chief orders inquiry


    SINGAPORE — The U.S. Navy ordered a broad investigation Monday into the performance and readiness of the Pacific-based 7th Fleet after the USS John S. McCain collided with an oil tanker in Southeast Asian waters, leaving 10 U.S. sailors missing and others injured.

    Damage is visible as the USS John S. McCain steers toward Singapore’s naval base on Monday.