South Florida Baptist Hospital team member Heather Coates signs the beam that topped the newest building around, marking a construction milestone for the future South Florida Baptist Hospital in Plant City.

All eyes gazed upward as the highest beam topped the newest building around, marking a construction milestone for the future South Florida Baptist Hospital in Plant City, just north of I-4.

That steel beam was covered in messages from more than 100 supporters — including elected officials, business leaders, construction workers and hospital team members — who signed before the ceremonial topping out.

“We’re very grateful for the continued support of our community as we build this location to replace our original hospital (301 N. Alexander St.),” said Karen Kerr, hospital president.  “We know it means a lot to the people of Plant City.”

Ralph Garcia, chairman of the hospital’s board of trustees, noted the progress made since October’s groundbreaking.

“I learned a lot about what this hospital means to the community,” he said. “I’ve had a chance to round with Karen and meet the team. I look at this hospital as another great tool that you can give to this team to help them care for this wonderful community and its surrounding areas.”

The 420,000-square-foot hospital, located off Exit 22 of I-4, east of the East Sam Allen and N. Park Roads intersection, will be 6 floors tall with two 6-story towers. All 146 rooms will be private. The campus includes a medical office building for convenient access to physicians as well as services such as rehabilitation, imaging and wound care.

The $326 million hospital is projected to open by early 2024.

Long-time board member Dub McGinnes reflected on the hospital’s history: “We are so proud of our leadership and team members. We have a great history here — it’s been 70 years since the first one was built — but it has even a brighter future.”

Barton Malow project executive Matt Wood said their involvement with the hospital fulfills the company’s mission.

“Our team charter says it will provide extraordinary health care services for Plant City and surrounding areas for generations to come,” Wood said.  “It’s very fulfilling to be working on a project with a noble purpose.”

South Florida Baptist is a founding member of BayCare Health System, which was formed more than 25 years ago to continue providing not-for-profit health care to the Tampa Bay community with a mission to provide high-quality compassionate care to all it serves.

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