St. Anthony’s Hospital has had ongoing construction projects almost from the first day Scott Smith arrived as president, in July 2016.
The hospital is now preparing to embark on Phase 2 of its master plan, a $152 million expansion that will add a 90-bed patient tower and renovations that will provide more room for cardiology and other services.
“It will improve the patient experience. It certainly will create a healing environment for our patients,” Smith told the St. Pete Catalyst. “We wanted to do something that’s meaningful for our community and our patients and we asked ourselves the question, who are we here to serve and what does that look like? We wanted to make sure we could deliver a product that was in the interest of our patients and community first and ourselves second, third or fourth.”
As an example, Smith will give up his first-floor office, with a big picture window looking out on the hospital grounds. What’s now the administrative wing will become part of a relocated dining area, accessible from a new and larger lobby entrance. In the new patient tower, each of the additional floors will have waiting areas that look out to a landscaped area across 7th Avenue. All the rooms will be private, and will be designed to hide the lights and medical gasses and other equipment that often dominate the space behind the bed.
“The headwall will have a more warm, homelike environment. All the gasses are hidden behind that headwall,” he said. “Family members spend a lot of time with patients in the room and it’s just a much more aesthetically appealing type of environment.”
It’s one of several ideas Smith brought to St. Anthony’s from St. Joseph’s South Hospital in Riverview. Smith, who started his career as a pharmacist and transitioned to health care administration in the late 1990’s, joined BayCare Health System in 2013 to open the then-new St. Joe’s South. Smith moved to St. Anthony’s in July 2016, when former St. Anthony’s president Bill Ulbrecht was named chief administrative officer for BayCare Medical Group.
“St. Joe’s South was open and running and stable and growing and this was a natural progression for me,” Smith said.
Just four years before Smith arrived, St. Anthony’s completed a major project, building a new emergency department and parking garage, and in 2013, the hospital opened the Suncoast Medical Clinic on its campus.
Smith was only on the job for a month when, in August 2016, St. Anthony’s launched the first phase of its master facilities plan, adding three operating rooms, expanded and enlarged its endoscopy services, and expanded the pharmacy and laboratory services.
Now, the hospital is focused on increasing overall patient capacity.
“We’ve been very fortunate to have grown and expanded with our community and have had significant volume growth over the past 10 years. This will allow us to meet our current needs for bed capacity as well as our future needs for bed capacity,” Smith said.
Part of the volume growth at the hospital is due to overall population gains in the area, and development in the community the hospital serves. Eighty percent of its patients come from southern Pinellas County, the area south of Ulmerton Road.
“It’s also just a trust and faith that the community has in St. Anthony’s. They have returned that trust and faith with volume that has come to this facility,” Smith said.
The new project will be funded through BayCare. “This project has been actively discussed for a number of years and formally approved last year,” Smith said.
The hospital also collaborated closely with the city, and the new project won backing last week from the Development Review Commission.
Work on Phase 2 is expected to wrap up in early to mid 2022. Smithis already looking ahead to Phase 3.
“We will revisit our emergency department again. It has seen a lot of growth,” he said. “We’ll also look at some consolidation and expansion of our imaging services.”
Other local hospitals also are working on or have just completed expansion projects, including Bayfront Health St. Petersburg, which just opened a cardiovascular center, and next month will open an expanded emergency department and trauma center.
The expansions underscore the importance of healthcare as an economic driver in the community.
While St. Petersburg’s hospitals are competitors, they are collaborators as well, Smith said.
“We need healthy colleagues in our market. If any of the other facilities were to close we couldn’t handle all the volume in the market. And if we were to close, they couldn’t handle all the volume in the market. We truly are co-dependent on one another to be healthy and viable entities.”