Driving into the main Bay Pines VA Healthcare System campus in St. Petersburg can seem like navigating a jigsaw puzzle. Normal roadways are blocked with detour signs pointing patients and employees away from the direction they want to travel. Parking is limited and the never ending army of construction vehicles bog down traffic, block roadways and kick up dust.
This may seem like an inconvenience now, but in the long run, all the ruckus caused by the $253 million construction boom at Bay Pines will pay off in expanded health care services for Veterans and an improved working environment for staff, according to Roger Makowski, Supervisory Engineer, Bay Pines VAHCS.Â
"Quite honestly, this is the largest amount of ongoing construction projects in the history of Bay Pines, and the most Iâ€™ve experienced during my nine years with the VA," Makowski said.Â
The focal point of construction, and by far, the largest project is the $194 million Mental Health Center addition which is expected to be completed by the end of 2014 or early 2015.Â Located on the southeast side of the main medical center building, the 156,000 square foot addition is a multi-phased venture requiring several smaller projects to be completed before major construction can begin. These projects include relocating the main warehouse, roadway and loading dock, and creating a "modular village" for services that must be temporarily relocated during refurbishment of inpatient wards. Tentatively, the new modular buildings will open in spring 2013 and will house library, medical administrative staff, and other employees.
Another part of this project is renovation of the current mental health space and inpatient wards 3D and 5D located in the main hospital. Modifications will begin after major construction of the mental health facility is complete. The contract for the renovation projects will be awarded next summer.
500-Space Parking Garage And MoreÂ
Another welcome addition to the Bay Pines VAâ€™s main campus is a new 500-space parking garage set to open in spring 2013. While the garage will primarily be designated for patient parking, there will also be some employee spaces in order to ease overflowing lots across campus.Â
Meanwhile, several sections of the new 28,962 square foot Eye Treatment and Outpatient Surgery Center are scheduled to open in the fall. Located on the buildingâ€™s first floor, ophthalmology and optometry will activate first with the second floor surgical areas scheduled to open before the end of the year. Full activation of all surgical services is expected in a little more than a year.
Additional projects in the planning and/or design phase include the following:
For more information about Bay Pines VA Healthcare System construction projects, please visit www.baypines.va.gov/news/planning.asp.