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BayCare moves Wesley Chapel hospital site

BayCare plans a $200 million, 60-bed hospital on land it owns along Bruce B. Downs Boulevard

WESLEY CHAPEL — BayCare Health Systems is going back to plan A for its hospital in Wesley Chapel.

The health care chain is abandoning plans for a hospital in a developing area next to Interstate 75 and now wants to build a new 60-bed hospital on land it bought more than a dozen years ago along the west side of Bruce B. Downs Boulevard, south of State Road 54 in central Pasco County.

The move comes almost a year after BayCare won preliminary state approval to build a new hospital farther north on 111 acres adjacent to the still-to-be constructed interchange of Interstate 75 and Overpass Road. The site switch is permissible because the Florida Legislature partially deregulated the hospital industry earlier this year by eliminating required certificates of need for hospital expansions.

BayCare filed preliminary plans with Pasco County last week to build a hospital and ancillary buildings at the northwest corner of Bruce B. Downs and Eagleston boulevards adjacent to the sprawling Seven Oaks neighborhood. The location puts it across the street and just down the road from AdventHealth Wesley Chapel hospital.

BayCare plans a combination of medical-surgical, critical care and some observation beds for those requiring inpatient care but expected to stay less than two nights.

“We anticipate providing the usual medical services seen at a hospital of this size. We do not anticipate providing obstetrics or tertiary services (open heart surgery, etc.),’’ BayCare spokeswoman Lisa Razler said by email.

The hospital will be approximately 190,000 square feet, including the emergency room plus some shell space for future growth, she said. Possible future expansion could include urgent care and ambulatory surgery centers. An adjoining medical office building will be 85,000 square feet.

The total capital costs are expected to be approximately $200 million and the hospital will be staffed by up to 220 full-time employees. Construction is expected to begin by September 2020 and the opening is anticipated for March 2023.

BayCare no longer plans to acquire the 111 acres at the northeast side of I-75 and Overpass Road, Razler said. The company purchased 54.5 acres fronting Bruce B. Downs Boulevard in separate transactions in 2006 and 2007 for a combined $21.67 million, according to property records. It also owns land along the highway south of Eagleston Boulevard.

BayCare bought that property as part of its effort last decade to build a Wesley Chapel hospital. However, the Agency for Health Care Administration awarded a certificate of need to a competing application from the former Adventist Health System and what was then University Community Hospital in Tampa. Their hospital at 2600 Bruce B. Downs Boulevard opened in 2012 with 83 beds and expanded three years later to bring its capacity to 145 licensed beds.

The renamed AdventHealth objected to BayCare’s 2018 revived hospital plans, saying the area could be served adequately by AdventHealth’s hospitals in Wesley Chapel, Dade City and Zephyrhills that total 414 beds. The argument became moot when the Legislature eliminated certificates of need.

““We remain committed and focused on making sure we are meeting the health care needs of the Pasco County community and investing our resources in the areas we can serve them best,” said AdventHealth spokeswoman Richelle Hoenes by email.

BayCare owns a network of 15 hospitals in the Tampa Bay region. In August, it announced a $152 million renovation at St. Anthony’s Hospital in St. Petersburg to include a 90-bed patient tower.