It was a different era of health care back in the mid-1960s, when St. Joseph’s Hospital moved from its original home in Ybor City to its familiar location on Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard in West Tampa. Hospital rooms had at least two beds, often more, and communal showers were down the hall. That’s what patients expected. Private rooms were rare and for the wealthy.
In recent years hospitals across the country have been moving toward single-occupancy rooms. That’s the impetus behind a new six-story addition to the hospital that’s slated for completion in December of 2019.
“The reason we’re doing this is to respond to community need and to emphasize how important West Tampa is to us,” says St. Joseph’s President Kimberly Guy. “We really think of St. Joseph’s
as an anchor for the West Tampa community. The sleek new tower will include 90 new private rooms for patients.
That will allow the hospital to convert some of its existing patient-care rooms into single-occupancy units.
Patients are more comfortable and content when they have a room to themselves, Guy says, but private rooms also improve patient outcomes. Patients get more rest, and the risk of contagion is lowered. St. Joseph's actually still has some areas where rooms don’t have their own showers. "We try not to use those for patients,'' Guy says.
But the new $126-million addition will be about more than private rooms. It will become the main entrance to the hospital, featuring a two-story lobby with a drive-up entrance, waiting rooms and on-call rooms. A pedestrian bridge will connect the new tower to St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital, on the south side of Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard.
St. Joseph’s Hospital-North
in Lutz and St. Joseph’s Hospital-South
in Riverview have also announced expansion plans, with new additions slated to open in 2019. The main St. Joseph’s campus has been a centerpiece of West Tampa since its founders, the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany, moved the hospital there a half-century ago.
Since then, the area around the hospital has become one of Tampa’s most important medical corridors.
The growth of nearby Hillsborough Community College, the building of Raymond James Stadium and the expansion of Interstate 275 over the past decades, along with the resurgence of West Tampa itself, have helped enhance the hospital’s visibility and importance to the Tampa Bay Area.
“I really think the sisters had some divine inspiration when they chose this location,” Guy says.