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St. Joseph's Hospital-South extends the mission of Franciscan sisters

RIVERVIEW — Nearly 30 years ago, Sister Marie Celeste and the Franciscan sisters purchased an empty tract of land with the idea of expanding the mission of its hospital.

Now, after three years of construction, that vision is becoming a reality.

St. Joseph's Hospital-South is nearing it's grand opening on Big Bend Road.

In preparation for the opening of the 352,000-square-foot campus off Simmons Road in Riverview, the hospital is focusing on staff training along with interior work and medical equipment.

Construction of the interior and exterior is finished, and neither aspect disappoints.

St. Joseph's Hospital-South president Scott Smith likens the architecture, the work of Gresham Smith and Partners, to a luxury hotel, with many minute details, such as ceiling lights that don't blind patients on stretchers and a fully electronic records system.

"I think it's some of that intentionality that really drives patient experience, family and visitor experience," Smith said. "It really does create what I think is truly a very subtle, healing-oriented environment, not only for our patients but for families as well which is just as important. So you see that in the reflection of nature throughout our building"

A large part of that healing-oriented environment is the type and quality of art throughout the hospital provided by Linden Galleries in Tampa.

"I created a lot of the pieces," gallery owner Lynn McAvoy said. "We did layouts, sizes and then what I would do is come up with themes or ideas for each of the areas and present them."

The design team and St. Joseph's Hospital-North president Paula McGuiness provided parameters of art concepts and the gallery, which has worked with St. Joseph's Hospital for more than 20 years, won the task through a bidding process.

"We printed everything, delivered and installed them," McAvoy said. "I enjoyed working on that project so much that I was getting sad when it was coming to an end."

The healing portion of the environment is promising. Being the first hospital to open in East Hillsborough in approximately 30 years, Smith also boasts the most current technology across the 22 medical services offered at the new hospital.

"All the glamorous, sexy technology is here," said Smith regarding the hospital's second floor.

He isn't exaggerating.

The pristine Sieman's CT machines, the elaborate three-part Da Vinci robotic surgery system and the palm vein scan check-in system all stand out.

"From the moment you come in you can check in with just your palm," said communications manager Lisa Patterson. "You put your hand down and you're scanned into the system and it goes from there."

Overall, administrators and staff seem genuinely excited about extending the mission of the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany, who came from New York and opened the first St. Joseph's on the corner of Morgan Street and Seventh Avenue in 1934. The goal remains the same: create quality, patient-centered health care for the community.

"What separates BayCare, a community-owned, not-for-profit system … is its ability to return that value back to its communities, back to the communities it serves as opposed to serving shareholders elsewhere," Smith said. "I think the way that BayCare has done it has been the right way and it's why I've been interested in being associated with this project and with this organization.

"I think the results are going to speak for themselves."

Contact Kelsey Sunderland at hillsnews@tampabay.com.

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