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BayCare receives early approval to build new hospital in Pasco

BayCare's St. Joseph's Hospital-North, at 4211 Van Dyke Rd., Lutz, opened in 2010. BayCare received preliminary state approval to oepn a new 60-bed acure-care hospital in Wesley Chapel. Times file
BayCare's St. Joseph's Hospital-North, at 4211 Van Dyke Rd., Lutz, opened in 2010. BayCare received preliminary state approval to oepn a new 60-bed acure-care hospital in Wesley Chapel. Times file
Published Dec. 10, 2018

WESLEY CHAPEL — BayCare is moving forward with plans to open a 60-bed hospital in Pasco County.

The health care chain, which operates 15 hospitals in Tampa Bay and surrounding areas, secured preliminary approval from the Agency for Health Care Administration to open a new hospital along Interstate 75 in Pasco County this month.

The proposed hospital is on a 111-acre site on the northeast side of I-75 at Overpass Road in Wesley Chapel within the so-called high-tech, connected-city corridor. BayCare hopes to operate the acute-care hospital with 30 surgical beds, 18 intensive care beds and 12 women's care, postpartum beds.

In its application to the state agency, BayCare officials said it will provide at least 15 percent of inpatient volume to Medicaid and charity patients. In addition, the hospital will employ six new primary care practitioners by the end of the third year of operation.

The application states that BayCare also will include $460,000 a year for three years to support behavioral health activities in the region.

"We know that the demand for health care services will continue to increase in that community, and we're eager to bring more of BayCare's clinical excellence to residents in this area," said Tommy Inzina, president and CEO of BayCare, in a statement.

BayCare tried unsuccessfully to crack the Wesley Chapel market a decade ago when it sought state permission to build a hospital on land it owns in the Seven Oaks development along Bruce B. Downs Boulevard. However, the state awarded the certificate to a competing application from Adventist Health System and what was then University Community Hospital in Tampa.

The Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel opened on the other side of Bruce B. Downs Boulevard from the proposed BayCare site in 2012. BayCare still owns the land at Seven Oaks.

"We don't have a plan for that right now. We don't have anything specific for that location,'' said BayCare spokeswoman Lisa Razler.

The hospital north of Overpass Road is still a few years away. Typically, it would take 3 1/2 years to obtain permits, design and build a hospital after receiving final state approval, said Razler.

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The hospital joins Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel, Florida Hospital Dade City and Florida Hospital Zephryhills in this stretch of Pasco County. Florida Hospital also operates a free-standing emergency department in this region.

Adventist Health Systems acquired the hospital in Dade City in April. As part of its state application, BayCare said Adventist Health's ownership of the hospitals in Dade City, Zephyrhills and Wesley Chapel limited patient choices.

Adventist Health objected to BayCare's application for a new hospital and has until the end of the month to appeal the state's preliminary approval. BayCare's application received letters of support from state legislators, county commissioners and the North Tampa Bay Chamber.

BayCare has spent hundreds of millions on facility upgrades to its existing hospitals in the past year. BayCare's St. Joseph's Hospital is undergoing a $126 million renovation that will add a six-story tower and 30 private rooms on each level. In Valrico, the company built a $53 million "HealthHub" designed to house all routine health care needs under one roof, from primary care to pediatricians to rehabilitation and fitness.

Also this year, BayCare began opening a series of kiosks where patients can talk privately with doctors on a screen inside Publix grocery stores.

Staff writer C.T. Bowen contributed to this report. Contact Justine Griffin at jgriffin@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8467. Follow @SunBizGriffin.