By Tamas Mondovics

It was the realization of a long-awaited moment for the close to 100 business leaders, neighbors and elected officials that have gathered for a groundbreaking ceremony in Riverview, which celebrated the construction of St. Joseph’s Hospital-South, the first not profit hospital built to serve southern Hillsborough County.

As confirmed by St. Joseph’s Hospitals President and CEO, Isaac Mallah, along with a number of guests speakers that included Patricia Shirley, OSF, vice president of mission services, Congresswoman Kathy Castor, Congressman Tom Roony and St. Joseph’s Hospital Chairman of the Board John Borecca, the new facility is expected to set a new standard of care when it opens in 2015 as a full-service hospital offering a wide range of services from emergency care and women’s services to surgery and intensive care.

Also among the dignitaries were hospital board members and executives including BayCare President and CEO Steve Mason; community leaders including Ed Barnes, president of the Sun City Center Community Association, Eileen Peco, president of Federation of Kings Point; representatives from the Greater Riverview, SouthShore and Sun City Center chambers of commerce; and State Representative Dana Young.

The 72-acre campus will include a medical office building that connects to the four-story, 352,000-sq.-ft. hospital for convenient access to pre-procedure testing and physician offices.

The site also will be home to a 40,000 sq.-ft., free-standing physician office building, which is expected to open in 2013 with imaging and laboratory services as well as primary care and specialty physician offices.

Mallah, emphasized that his staff has worked more than seven years as well as invested more than $1 million to get the necessary approvals to build the hospital, while the idea to build in this location was conceived in the mid 1980s, when the land was first purchased by hospital visionaries.

“Think about it,” Castor urged the audience. “$225 million invested here and the ripple effect that will have. First, its construction jobs, boosting small businesses throughout the community, followed by the medical professionals that will move here and their families that will grow up here. This hospital is going to be an anchor for economic development for the SouthShore community and all of southern Hillsborough County.”

With the groundbreaking ceremony behind them, St. Joseph’s Hospital-South at 6901 Simmons Loop Rd. in Riverview, is now under construction by Barton Malow and Company who will utilize the skills of close to 500 construction workers throughout the project, which will include the widening of Simmons Loop Rd. to three lanes as well as the installation of new traffic signals at Big Bend Rd.

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