ST. PETERSBURG — A new medical emergency room is in the works for northwest St. Petersburg.
Bayfront Health St. Petersburg unveiled plans Wednesday to build a four-story medical facility at 1800 66th St. N. It will include a 14,000 square-foot emergency room on the ground floor and space for future medical offices just south of Tyrone Square mall.
Plans for the emergency room include 12 examination rooms, two of which can be used to resuscitate patients, and an ambulance bay. It will have the capability to conduct cat scans and X-Rays.
The facility follows a growing trend of hospitals adding smaller “free-standing” emergency departments — they’re called that because they are not attached to traditional hospitals — to bring care closer to the community.
A 5-mile area around the proposed facility generated about 200,000 emergency room visits in a single year, according to an analysis conducted by Orlando Health, the hospital system that purchased Bayfront in October. There is no similar facility in that area, said Matt Taylor, the system’s vice president of asset strategy.
“Most of those people are leaving that area to seek medical attention,” he said “This will bring that service closer to them.”
The emergency room will still be linked to the parent hospital as clinicians rotate in and out of the new facility, Taylor said. Patients can be assessed, treated and released from the 66th Street N site while the most complicated cases are transferred to the hospital campus downtown.
He expects the emergency room will see up to 60 patients a day, or about 20,000 a year.
In addition to being closer, a small free-standing emergency room is easier for panicked relatives driving loved-ones to navigate compared to a large hospital campus, Taylor said. Bayfront already has a remote emergency room on Grand Avenue in Pinellas Park.
“It’s very convenient, easy to find, easy to get into,” Taylor said. “Especially when you haven an emergency occurring, you want people to be able to find their way quickly.”
The hospital is still in talks with contractors and does not yet have an estimated construction cost, Taylor said. Pinellas County property appraiser records show Orlando Health bought the site for $6.5 million on March 9.
The 4-acre site is currently home to empty office space that was previously used by the Pinellas County Clerk of the Court and the Tax Collector’s office. That building will be demolished.
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Hospital officials said they do not need the property to be rezoned and expect to break ground in the fall. The group has partnered with Ryan Architects to design the facility and surrounding campus, which is scheduled to open in January 2023.
The announcement is another sign of Orlando Health’s investment in Bayfront. Leaders of the Florida health care giant, which boasts more than $7 billion in assets, pledged to revive St. Petersburg’s marque hospital when they purchased it from Community Health Systems, a Tennessee company that had owned 80 percent of the 480-bed hospital since 2014. They also bought the other 20 percent from the nonprofit Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg.
The hospital system has announced plans for a massive renovation of the downtown campus and in February, officials told City Council members they had made a “substantial” investment in equipment, updated safety protocols and made other improvements.
“Construction of this new facility reinforces our commitment to continue to invest and grow in St. Petersburg and Pinellas County,” said Bayfront President John Moore in a statement. “We are excited to expand our presence to meet the demands of this vibrant community, ensuring our neighbors can access exceptional skilled emergency medical care close to home.”