At 50, hospital looking ahead

Published March 17, 2007

LARGO - This year marks 50 years that Largo's Sun Coast Hospital has tended to the area's sick. But in the midst of its golden anniversary, the hospital is undergoing some changes.

Starting March 1, the University Community Health system ended its relationship with Sun Coast Hospital.

Since 2000, UCH, in Tampa, had handled billing, procurement, risk management and other administrative duties for Sun Coast.

In addition to parting ways with UCH, Sun Coast recently named Darrell Lentz as its interim chief executive officer. Lentz came to Sun Coast in 2002 as the controller, then served as Sun Coast's chief financial officer for two years.

"The quality of care will be unchanged and really from the patient's perspective, aside from the logo being gone, everything has been seamless," Lentz said.

Lentz said he will seek to keep the job permanently. A committee has been formed to pick the next CEO.

UCH administrators said they wanted to focus more of their resources in Pasco County, a high-growth area.

"We have a different focus," said Larry Archbell of UCH. "We are not a huge system, and we have to allocate resources where it's going to provide the most good for the community and do the most for the hospital as well."

UCH now has about 1,000 beds in four facilities: Tampa's University Community Hospital, UCH-Fletcher, Pepin Heart Institute and Helen Ellis Memorial Hospital in Tarpon Springs. UCH is applying for an application for a certificate of need for a facility in Wesley Chapel and already has a certificate of need for a long-term acute care facility in Pasco's Connerton development on State Road 54.

But at Sun Coast, which has 200 beds, things are still on the upswing. In October, the facility, at 2025 Indian Rocks Road, unveiled $3.1-million in improvements to its emergency room, doubling the number of private rooms from 10 to 20 and the overall ER size from 5,500 to 10,000 square feet.

HealthGrades, a national health care ratings organization, awarded the hospital a 2007 General Surgery Excellence Award. The hospital will also begin working with Pittsburgh-based Human Motion Institute, a musculoskeletal program.

Sun Coast Hospital was founded in 1957 by general surgeon Dr. Alan Snider, who, at 95, is still active with the hospital.

Demorris A. Lee can be reached at 445-4174 or dalee@sptimes.com.