TARPON SPRINGS — The new year promises to bring many changes to Florida Hospital North Pinellas, starting with a corporate-wide name change that took effect shortly after New Year’s Day.
On Jan. 2, each of Orlando-based parent company Adventist Health Systems’ wholly owned hospitals and care sites officially adopted the AdventHealth name. The rebranding was designed to allow consumers to more easily distinguish the nonprofit, faith-based health care chain’s locations and services, according to a press release announcing the change late last year.
“Becoming AdventHealth allows us to be a fully integrated and distinguishable health system across all aspects of the care continuum, while also speaking to our Christian healing ministry, message of whole-ness and our rich Seventh-day Adventist roots,” Adventist Health System president and CEO, Terry Shaw, said in the release.
While the new name won’t affect patients and visitors at the South Pinellas Avenue facility, other changes scheduled to start this year will have a major impact on the day to day, as well as long term, operations of the hospital.
During a presentation in early December, AdventHealth North Pinellas President and CEO Jason Dunkel provided an update to the City Commission on projects. The program will include renovations to the interior and exterior of the hospital, that will move forward following the passage of a referendum vote to extend the hospital’s lease with the city for an additional 30 years in November.
“This is something that’s needed; something that we’ve been looking forward to doing for some time,” Dunkel said of the interior work, which he said would include new flooring, paint, nurse stations and waiting room furniture on floors 2, 3, 6 and 7, new bathrooms and, potentially, a new O.R., on the eighth floor, as well as remodel of the lobby. “When you come in the hospital, it’ll feel like a new hospital.”
Dunkel then provided an update on the hospital’s major renovation projects, including an $18.5 million expansion of the emergency room.
The ER expansion will break ground in early spring, Dunkel said. It will add 18 state-of-the-art, private rooms, plus space for three additional rooms as well as relocating the emergency room from the second floor to the ground floor of the facility.
“This will give us the capacity to see about 34,000 annual visits,” Dunkel said. “Right now, we’re seeing about 26,000, so we have room to grow.”
Of the ER’s relocation, he said: “I’m excited that we’re going to drop it down and put it on the first level. Intuitively, it makes for a better experience for those coming to the hospital.”
The hospital is also set to undergo $10 million in exterior improvements, including a “reskinning” that would “dramatically alter the look of the hospital” by incorporating a “lot of glass elements.” The outside makeover will include a new façade that would provide wind mitigation during severe storms and hurricanes. “It gets us the wind mitigation we need so that we never have to evacuate our hospital again,” he said, referring to the situation following Hurricane Irma.
He said the exterior work would begin around the same time as the ER and is expected to take 16 months to complete.
Dunkel also pointed out AdventHealth North Pinellas is the longest standing A-graded hospital in the Tampa Bay area as well as a four-star rated facility.
“We’ve worked very hard on our quality the past seven, eight years, and now we’re gonna work hard on the exterior and the finished inside to match the quality that’s inside,” he said.
In response to Dunkel’s presentation, Mayor Chris Alahouzos thanked the administrator for “transforming our hospital into one of the best hospitals in Florida.”
Voter approval in November of a 30-year extension of the lease AdventHealth holds on the hospital’s city-owned building is making the planned improvements to the hospital exterior and ER possible, the mayor noted.