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Health Services - Latasha Barnes

February 7, 2023


Community Voices

Health Services - Latasha Barnes

How does a city benefit from having a medical institution like Bayfront Health in its downtown?

Bayfront Health has been a fixture in the St. Petersburg community for over 110 years so there’s a rich history of providing care and being a training ground for nursing and physicians. From our emergency room, the only trauma center in Pinellas County, the myriad of services provided at the hospital. We offer surgical services, including minimally invasive and robotic surgery, neurosciences care and have a comprehensive stroke program and epilepsy center. We provide expert women’s services and maternity care for normal pregnancies to high-risk moms and babies as a level III regional perinatal intensive care center. And we’re not stopping there!  

We recently announced key partnerships to bring even more access to quality healthcare to St. Petersburg for Women’s services and oncology. And we’re adding another free-standing emergency room and a medical pavilion in west St. Petersburg. Patients will be able to seek emergency care or preventive care through the medical pavilion closer to where they live and work and if more advanced care is needed, the main hospital is less than 7 miles away in Downtown St. Petersburg. We believe patients should have access to quality care right in their proverbial backyard. We’re striving to be a leader in tertiary and quintenary care in the region, all while maintaining and growing our relationships with USFSP and SPC—the next nurses and physicians in our three medical residency programs. We’re really proud to help train the next healthcare champions and leaders and do our best to keep as much of that talent here as we can. 

What are the biggest current challenges to Downtown’s network of health services institutions?

Generally speaking I think like most healthcare organizations, we’re all still recovering from COVID-19 related pressures. A really big challenge remains with talent acquisition and retention. Since we acquired Bayfront Health St. Petersburg, we’ve hired more than 200 nurses. We’re probably much closer to 300 net new nurses. We’ve all been plagued by the significant increases in rate for traveler resources to help supplement staffing needs for volume or simply plug the holes we’ve had. Those rates have finally started to decline back to some level of normalcy but challenges remain in other skilled labor needs like surgical services, lab services, respiratory therapy and imaging where the sources for this talent are limited and the need is great.  

Another challenge for us locally is with affordable housing. This adds another layer of complexity to talent acquisition. There’s a lot of housing under construction in St. Pete, both downtown, and outlying areas; however, the affordability of that housing for team members either fresh out of college or their technical programs can be out of reach. So, we have to get creative with benefit packages to try and supplement the gap or show the value in taking a role with us versus a competitor, not to mention the challenge this can present to a city. It can be a drain on talent. Our young people are looking either for less expensive cities to live or perhaps making career choices in other industries.

Are there any collaborations you would like to share that are happening between Bayfront and other entities to address challenges?  

We are members of the St. Pete Innovation District and as an anchor institution of the district, we’re working alongside Alison Barlow and her team and fellow anchor institutions to address workforce housing challenges and amenity needs like daycare capacity. As and I mentioned before, we have great partnerships with St. Pete College and USF St. Pete, training nursing students for their clinical rotations and we’ve recently had nursing leaders become adjunct teaching faculty at USF, including our Chief Nursing Officer Lorraine Parker, who’s a collaborative faculty member.  We also partner with other local schools for imaging talent and have a new partnership with United Way and UMA to train nursing assistants.

What can you tell us about the Women’s Pavilion?

The Bayfront Health Women’s Pavilion will open on the main Downtown campus in early fall 2024 in partnership with Women’s Care. Bayfront Health St. Petersburg and Women’s Care have a combined experience of more than 100 years providing healthcare to the region. This strong commitment will lead to a stronger partnership for comprehensive women’s care in all stages of life and health. It will be a three-story, 60,000 square foot state-of-the-art outpatient complex will be a technologically advanced facility dedicated to women’s health and wellness. The Women’s Pavilion will have the latest imaging tools for screening and diagnostic capabilities for a team of a highly trained and compassionate physicians. It will also be home to a multi-specialty practice with access to specialties like urogynecology. We’re looking forward to expanding our women’s services offerings. Becoming a premier destination for women’s care in the region is a major priority.

Complete this sentence. Downtown St. Pete is a place to ____.

Downtown St. Pete is a place to innovative. 

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