Leaders from St. Anthony’s Hospital and the St. Petersburg community turned the first ceremonial shovels of dirt Wednesday for a new 90-bed patient tower.
The $152 million construction project, which also includes renovations to make room for more services, will enable the hospital to meet the growing needs of the community, improve access to care and enhance the patient experience, said Scott Smith, St. Anthony’s president.
“St. Anthony’s will be 90-years-old next year. When you think about what we’re doing, this is really creating a 100-year legacy. The building that we’re getting ready to break ground on will be here long after we are all gone and it will still be serving our community,” Smith said at a groundbreaking ceremony.
The hospital already has relocated several services to get ready for construction. The 7th Avenue entrance has been removed and site work is underway to prepare for tower construction, beginning next month.
The project will create jobs in an already-strong health care sector, said Chris Steinocher, president and CEO of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce.
“Most people think our community is driven on tourism and it is. There’s a lot of that. But there are more jobs in the life sciences and health care space than there are in tourism in our Tampa Bay area,” Steinocher said. “We’ve seen over $1 billion in investment in the last couple of years from these institutions.”
The strength of the area’s healthcare industry is personal for Steinocher.
“I believe we have some of the best health care in the county. Having just survived cancer I know that’s the fact. I did not have to leave the region to do what I needed to do,” he said.
Mayor Rick Kriseman said he also has personal ties to St. Anthony’s. His wife’s grandmother volunteered there, his wife was born there and their daughter was one of the last children born at the hospital. Improving the experience of patients and their families is key, he said.
“This is more than just putting shovels in the ground. It’s the recognition of a major enhancement coming to our city,” Kriseman said.
He also cited the role the hospital plays as Florida is in the midst of a public health emergency due to coronavirus.
“The city is coordinating with federal, state and local officials and we’re doing everything we can to be prepared. This hospital is doing the same. Doctors, nurses and support staff are the front lines in situations like this, and I am truly grateful for the skilled care that our community receives here at St. Anthony’s,” Kriseman said.