BayCare Expands Behavioral Health Services With St. Joseph's Hospital-North Inpatient Unit

March 31, 2023
A patient room with a plexiglass safety feature over a television attached to the wall
A behavioral health patient room. Note the safety feature on the television screen.
Lutz, Fla., March 31, 2023  —  BayCare, the largest provider of behavioral health services in the Tampa Bay region, is expanding with the addition of a 24-bed inpatient psychiatric and medical unit at St. Joseph’s Hospital-North in Lutz. The St. Joseph’s Hospital-North Unit for Psychiatry and Medical Services (UPM) is scheduled to open in mid-April.

The new behavioral health unit was announced in February 2022. BayCare and Hillsborough County are each contributing $3.5 million. Hillsborough County used federal American Rescue Plan grant money to fund half of the $7 million total cost of the unit.

“The allocation of these funds by Hillsborough County, along with our partnership with BayCare in this endeavor, will greatly assist in serving individuals with both behavioral health and medical needs,” said Ken Hagan, Hillsborough County Commission Chairman. “The Unit for Psychiatry and Medical Services (UPM) at St. Joseph’s Hospital-North will treat and deliver care for a patient population in an innovative way.”

“Many providers nationally are closing behavioral health programs,” said Anthony Santucci, BayCare director of behavioral health nursing. “We’re fortunate that BayCare and its BayCare Board of Trustees is committed to serving our community’s health needs. It’s remarkable we are expanding while others are closing.”

Santucci also noted that there are not many locations for inpatient mental health services in northern Hillsborough County, where St. Joseph’s Hospital-North is located.
A monitoring station with a screen showing inside many patient rooms
A monitoring station to see patient rooms

“St. Joseph’s Hospital-North is dedicated to improving the health and well-being of all those we serve,” said Sara Dodds, St. Joseph’s Hospital-North’s operations director and currently serving as the hospital’s interim president. “We are proud to be contributing to this currently unmet need in our community.”

Santucci said the St. Joseph’s Hospital-North UPM will deliver care in a nontraditional way from most mental health programs. The UPM will treat patients simultaneously for both medical and psychiatric diagnoses and needs. Traditionally, medical and psychiatric are treated separately in different units. 

“This brings psychiatry and medicine together into a single effort to care for the patient as a whole. We’re not carving this out, with a separate space for each,” Santucci said. “This is a reimagining of a care delivery model.”

A former medical/surgical unit at St. Joseph’s Hospital-North has been redesigned and constructed to meet the regulatory requirements for licensed inpatient psychiatry. Santucci said the design changes are mostly from a safety perspective and includes changes to furniture, beds, shower facilities, sink fixtures and ceilings.

A wall mural in a room designated for quiet activities
A wall mural in a room that will eventually be furnished and used for quiet activities
The St. Joseph’s Hospital-North UPM will be staffed by registered nurses, mental health technicians, patient care technicians, behavioral health therapists, psychiatrists and medical hospitalists (hospital-based doctors).

“The foundation of this program (St. Joseph’s Hospital-North UPM) stands tall on the integration between medicine and psychiatry,” Santucci said. “I feel honored to be part of a health care system that recognizes the needs within our community surrounding mental health.”

BayCare currently operates 318 behavioral health inpatient beds in four counties (Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk) at eight locations. More than 12,000 patients are treated annually including adult, geriatric, child and adolescent patients. 

BayCare’s announcement of the St. Joseph’s Hospital-North’s UPM addition is the health system’s second significant behavioral health announcement this year. In early 2023, BayCare announced the acquisition of Northside Behavioral Center in Tampa:

Additionally, St. Anthony’s Hospital in St. Petersburg is adding 13 rooms for behavioral health patients to its Emergency Center as part of an expansion project:


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