Judge Ok’s Bid For New Hospital

St. Joseph’s Hospital President and CEO Isaac MallahSouthern Hillsborough County may be one step closer to getting a new St. Joseph’s Hospital on Big Bend Rd. located in Gibsonton.

An administrative law judge has recommended that the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) approve St. Joseph’s request to build a new, 90-bed satellite hospital on Big Bend Rd., about a mile east of I-75.

According to President and Chief Executive Officer Isaac Mallah, existing hospitals in the area are overcrowded and the population continues to grow.

In 2005, St. Joseph’s filed its first certificate of need application asking the State for approval to build a new hospital. The request was denied, but St. Joseph’s appealed the decision, requesting an administrative hearing that was held last fall. After hearing directly from representatives of St. Joseph’s and their opponents, the judge determined there is a need for an additional hospital based on population growth, hospital capacity and service needs. It also was noted that “an additional hospital would afford patients with another choice of provider in the southeastern portion of the County.”

“We want to build a new, high-quality hospital for this community,” said Mallah. “This is definitely a step in the right direction for the future of health care in southern Hillsborough County.”

Historically, AHCA supports a judge’s recommendation, indicated Mallah.

“We are hopeful AHCA will agree with the judge and approve the application because it is the right thing to do for the community,” said Mallah. A final order from AHCA could come later this summer.

Regardless of the outcome, St. Joseph’s Hospital officials will be back before a judge in February 2009 discussing a second CON filed by the hospital in October 2007. That request for St. Joseph’s Hospital to bring a new facility to Big Bend Rd. was denied; instead, the state approved the relocation of a hospital from Sun City Center to Big Bend Rd.

“It is our hope that we will go into the next hearing with AHCA’s final approval to build our hospital,” said Mallah. “That would make it unnecessary for South Bay Hospital to move from Sun City Center to Big Bend Rd.”

For more information, contact Lisa Patterson at 554-8134.