Bayfront Health, the biggest hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida, is currently in the midst of a new $22 million expansion project that began in August 2017, less than a month after a groundbreaking ceremony which was held on July 14. The 18-month project is meant to upgrade Bayfront Health’s existing Level II trauma center by doubling the size of the emergency unit and increasing the total number of private rooms to 48. These improvements will ultimately lead to shorter average ER wait times. Sounds good, right? It gets even better, other notable improvements from the project include:
- New access to trauma and critical care areas for patients arriving by ambulance
- New designated areas for non-critical walk-in patients
- On-site magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed topography (CT) machines for suspected stroke patients.
- Two new rooms for emergency care of patients with mental health disorder
A boon for the Tampa Bay economy
The project coincides with the appointment of John McClain as Bayfront Health’s new Chief Executive Officer. McClain spearheaded a similar development at Venice Regional, which, like Bayfront Health, is also a subsidiary of Tennessee-based Community Health Systems, one of the largest for-profit hospital chains in the country.
The expansion project is expected to be a boon to the local Tampa Bay economy as there will be a healthy supply of construction jobs to residents of St. Pete and the greater Tampa Bay area. Since construction jobs are typically short-term, the wages will be significantly higher compared to other skilled jobs. Experienced local contractors will also share a piece of the pie to support the project’s supply chain.
Concerns over drug abuse in the construction industry
Despite the anticipated economic benefits, there are some concerns over the negative impacts that the project will bring to the community. The construction industry records the second highest rate of drug use among all industries, at 16.5%, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Owing to the high safety risk for workers at construction sites (operating machines, falls, electrocution, etc.), substance abuse carries a significantly higher risk of injuries and fatalities. In fact, according to the Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), one in five fatalities (20.3%) in the private sector are construction-related. The anticipated demands for illicit substances will also introduce new sources of drugs to the community.
While drug testing is not compulsory for the construction industry, such programs, both at the pre employment stage and then later through random drug testing, will improve safety on construction sites. Studies have demonstrated that drug testing programs can reduce workplace accidents by as much as half. At the same time, these programs will also reduce absenteeism, theft, and compensation claims while increasing productivity and staff morale. So while some want to argue that drug tests infringe on the individual rights and privacy of workers, a more logical argument is that they protect employees, employers and the community because drug testing is designed to stop a accident or injury before it occurs.