Tampa General, USF designated one of first behavioral health teaching hospitals in Florida

TGH USF behavioral hospital
'Tampa General is working to transform health care through innovation.'

Lawmakers and community leaders convened in Tampa this week to celebrate one of the state’s first behavioral health teaching hospitals at Tampa General Hospital (TGH), in partnership with the University of South Florida (USF). Construction is already well underway to build the new TGH Behavioral Health Hospital in the Tampa Medical and Research District, but when Senate Bill 330 was signed into law this year, it gave a whole new meaning to this state-of-the-art destination for behavioral health services.

“Tampa General is working to transform health care through innovation. Across the nation, there is limited access to behavioral health services and a workforce shortage unable to support the growing need. We turned to our partners at the University of South Florida and in the state Legislature, to address the issue and craft a meaningful solution that not only benefits the patients we treat at Tampa General, but every community across the state of Florida,” said TGH CEO John Couris. “Now, with Senate Bill 330 signed into law, the TGH Behavioral Health Hospital is one of the state’s first behavioral health teaching hospitals, where patients needing behavioral health services will have access to academic-based, world-class care. Additionally, medical students and residents will benefit from critical learning alongside Tampa General’s best-in-class providers, extending the reach of our care as they advance their careers in behavioral health.”

House Speaker Paul Renner; Sen. Jim Boyd; Sen. Darryl Rouson; Reps. Jennifer Canady, Karen Gonzalez Pittman, Kimberly Berfield and Dianne Hart; as well as Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, were among the lawmakers who joined Tampa General and USF on Monday to celebrate Florida’s first behavioral health teaching hospital.

“I would like to congratulate Tampa General Hospital for being designated as one of the first free-standing behavioral health teaching hospitals in the state,” said Speaker Renner. “Thank you, President Passidomo, Rep. Garrison and Sen. Boyd, for your leadership in providing this opportunity to train and retain medical professionals to help those with mental health and substance abuse issues. Floridians will benefit from the care, research and learning provided by our new behavioral health teaching hospitals, and I’m excited to see TGH lead on this innovative effort.”

Boyd carried Senate Bill 330 in the upper chamber and was a component of President Kathleen Passidomo’s “Live Healthy” initiative.

Rouson co-sponsored it, sharing his own journey of treatment and healing at the event, which inspired his career in public service. Rep. Sam Garrison shepherded the legislation’s House companion.

“On the state level, we’re doing everything we can to ensure Floridians have access to the care they need,” Boyd said. “Working with Tampa General and USF, we crafted meaningful policy solutions that not only expand access to behavioral health care but also educate the next generation of providers.”

The new law was designed to advance Florida’s behavioral health systems of care by creating a new integrated care and education model. With an emphasis on research, the behavioral health teaching hospitals will provide inpatient and outpatient behavioral health care, address systemwide behavioral health needs, and provide treatment and care for those who need long-term voluntary or involuntary civil commitment. In collaboration with the state, universities and private organizations, behavioral health teaching hospitals will also provide leading-edge education and training to strengthen Florida’s behavioral health workforce.

Importantly, the bill created a new state center to focus on recruitment and retention efforts and expand pathways to behavioral health professionals. Lawmakers selected USF as the ideal home for the Florida Center for Behavioral Health. USF’s College of Behavioral and Community Sciences is uniquely positioned to support this initiative because of its interdisciplinary and collaborative focus on behavioral sciences and its portfolio of research conducted over the past 50 years.

“As one of the nation’s leading research universities, the University of South Florida plays a pivotal role in addressing critical challenges facing the Tampa Bay area, the state of Florida and our society,” said Rhea Law, president of the University of South Florida. “USF is uniquely positioned to help with the growing demand for behavioral health services, and alongside our partners at Tampa General Hospital, we are committed to identifying bold solutions that ensure a better future for our communities. We sincerely appreciate our state leaders for their continued support of our university and initiatives that benefit our region.”

According to the U.S. Department for Health and Human Services, nearly one in four Americans live with a mental illness. With this increased demand for patient care comes heightened demand on our workforce.

The TGH Behavioral Health Hospital, expected to open in 2025, will offer highly specialized and personalized care for many behavioral and mental health conditions. Tampa General has teamed up with Lifepoint Behavioral Health, which specializes in providing compassionate care across the behavioral health care continuum, to manage daily operations. Physicians with the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences at USF Morsani College of Medicine (USF Health) will offer a full range of inpatient and outpatient care in specialized units for child, adolescent, adult and geriatric patients.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of FloridaPolitics.com, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Previous to his publishing efforts, Peter was a political consultant to dozens of congressional and state campaigns, as well as several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella. Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterSchorschFL.

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