St. Joseph’s Hospital, part of the BayCare Health System, in Florida, US has opened its new patient facility early to support Covid-19 response in the region.

The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration granted approval to open 30 rooms in the new patient tower, which is linked to St. Joseph’s Hospital on several floors.

It is expected that the tower’s remaining 60 rooms will be opened for patient care in coming weeks.

St. Joseph’s Hospital president Kimberly Guy said: “As the number of people testing positive for Covid-19 has increased, so has the need for hospitalisation of the sickest patients.

“At the same time, those who need surgery or medical care for other issues still count on us for their care. Fortunately, we began a major expansion more than two years ago.

“Now, we’re able to open some rooms about a month ahead of schedule, which will make room for us to serve additional patients if needed.”

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The fifth floor of the new tower has opened now and can accept 30 orthopaedic and neurological patients.

Accommodation in the new rooms is meant to free up space and create more Covid-dedicated rooms in the main hospital, in case the number of cases continues to increase.

Work is also ongoing on other areas such as the lobby and classrooms.

Once fully operational, the new, $126m seven-storey tower will house three floors with 30 private patient rooms each, two-story lobby, waiting and on-call rooms.

The new tower will also have one floor for mechanical support, as well as link to the main tower at floors one, two, five and the basement.

A pedestrian bridge is included to connect St. Joseph’s Hospital to St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital.

The construction is anticipated to complete by mid-September this year.