TAMPA — A $17 million free-standing emergency department is the latest addition to Tampa Bay’s growing health care infrastructure.
HCA Florida South Tampa Hospital on Wednesday opened the new facility at the southeast corner of Hillsborough Avenue and Interstate 275. Known as HCA Florida Central Tampa Emergency, it will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is the hospital’s first freestanding emergency room, and officials said it provides the same level of services as the hospital’s main campus.
“This beautiful new emergency facility will fill the increasing need for access to emergency services in the heart of Tampa,” said Sonia Wellman, chief executive officer. “We look forward to serving Seminole Heights and surrounding communities with quick access to quality emergency care.”
The move is the latest in a trend of hospitals adding smaller free–standing emergency departments — which are not attached to traditional hospitals — to bring care closer to communities and reduce wait times.
The 11,000-square-foot building includes patient rooms and a trauma bay with full emergency services support including laboratory, CT scans and ultrasound equipment.
It is located on a 3.5-acre site HCA bought from the Seminole Heights Baptist Church in 2020 for $6.9 million. The church was demolished but the hospital has preserved the City Fire Department Company No. 7 building, which dates back to 1924.
HCA planners had been looking for property in this area as they believe it is underserved for emergency care. The closest emergency room is at least 3 miles away, said HCA spokesperson Deb McKell.
“They saw a big hole in this area where there were no emergency services,” she said.
A single-standing ER benefits from not having to share radiology labs and CT scan equipment with the rest of the hospital, McKell said.
“In a (traditional) hospital environment, the complexity of serving patients is very different,” she said. “At free-standing (ones), you can drive right up and walk through the door. It’s a more efficient way.”
HCA already operates a free-standing ER in Riverview that is a satellite of HCA Florida Brandon Hospital. AdventHealth has one in Brandon.
Orlando Health, the owners of Bayfront Health St. Petersburg, opened an emergency department in Pinellas Park in 2018 and is building a 14,000-square-foot emergency room as part of a four-story medical facility just south of Tyrone Square mall that is scheduled to open in January.
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