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State Law Names TGH Behavioral Health Hospital One of First Behavioral Health Teaching Hospitals in Florida

TGH Behavioral Health Hospital will expand access to world-class care and strengthen health care workforce to meet growing demand

Tampa General Hospital (TGH) and University of South Florida (USF) celebrated May 13 a new state law that names the TGH Behavioral Health Hospital one of the first four behavioral health teaching hospitals in the state of Florida and creates the Florida Center for Behavioral Health Workforce within the University of South Florida’s Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute (FMHI).

Florida House Speaker Paul Renner, Senator Jim Boyd, who championed the legislation, and Senator Darryl Rouson, who co-sponsored the legislation, joined John Couris, president and CEO of Tampa General; Rhea Law, president of USF; City of Tampa Mayor Jane Castor; Dr. Charles Lockwood, executive vice president of USF Health and dean of the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine; Dr. Ryan Wagoner, chair, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine; Marty Mann, chief development officer, Lifepoint Health; and Kathy Bolmer, chief operating officer, Lifepoint Health; on Monday at the site where the TGH Behavioral Health Hospital is presently under construction. There, they signed their names to a beam that will support the new structure. The TGH Behavioral Health Hospital is a state-of-the-art facility that will serve as one of the first and only freestanding academic medical behavioral health hospitals in Florida.   

Leadership sign the beam at topping off celebration.

“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,” Couris said. “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.”

“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, state of Florida and our society,” President Law said. “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.”

The Florida Legislature passed Senate Bill 330, sponsored by Senators Boyd and Rouson in the Senate and Representative Sam Garrison in the House, during the 2024 legislative session to create a behavioral health teaching hospital designation in state statute. The bill, signed by the Governor into law, names Tampa General, in partnership with USF Health, as the first of just four behavioral health teaching hospitals in the state. 

“I would like to congratulate Tampa General Hospital for being designated as one of the first freestanding behavioral health teaching hospitals in the state,” Speaker Renner said. “Thank you, President Passidomo, Representative Garrison and Senator 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.”

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

The new behavioral health hospital, currently under construction.

"Today marks a pivotal moment for our state's commitment to behavioral health care access,” Senator Rouson said. “With this partnership between the University of South Florida and Tampa General Hospital, we are laying the foundation for a healthier future for our community. This collaboration of academia and health care will nurture a robust workforce to meet the growing demand for quality care across Florida.”

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 system-wide 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.  

The legislation established a statewide 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 Workforce. 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.

“This is a milestone for Tampa General Hospital and for our city, as our medical industry grows and provides our residents with world-class health services and employment opportunities,” Mayor Castor said. “TGH has served our community for generations and this type of expansion will only enhance its impact on the lives of countless Tampanians and others who come to our city seeking the best care available.”

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 Health Morsani College of Medicine will offer a full range of inpatient and outpatient care in specialized units for child, adolescent, adult and geriatric patients. 

“This project recognizes the urgent need to better address chronic mental illness in this country,” Dr.  Lockwood said. “As a society, we must do more to improve mental health services and increase access and adherence to high quality mental health care. Fortunately, here in Tampa Bay, we are poised to do just that. Our partnership with Tampa General Hospital and Lifepoint Behavioral Health will offer a full range of complex innovative mental health care, improved access, and cutting-edge research for those who need it most.” 

“Our team at Lifepoint Behavioral Health has a vision for expanding access to evidence-driven behavioral health care in the communities we serve,” Bolmer said. “We are proud to work alongside our partners, Tampa General Hospital and the University of South Florida, as we bring one of the state’s first behavioral health teaching hospitals to patients here in Tampa and the surrounding region. The work we do at TGH Behavioral Health Hospital will not only benefit the patients who walk through our doors in Tampa but will help shape life-saving and life-changing care for patients throughout the state in need of mental health support. We look forward to all we will accomplish together as we advance our mission of making communities healthier.” 

The TGH Behavioral Health Hospital is located at 1303 West Kennedy Boulevard. It will serve as an integral part of the Tampa Medical and Research District, a hub of world-class clinical care, academics, research and biotechnology, anchored by TGH and USF Health. The hospital is planned to be approximately 83,000 square feet with 96 inpatient beds and will feature dedicated space for treating patients with behavioral health issues compounded by other medical conditions.

The demand for behavioral and mental health services is greater than ever before. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, nearly one in four Americans lives with a mental illness. Across the nation, more than half of the population lives in an area with a shortage of mental health professionals.

Photos by Ryan Rossy, USF Health Communications

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About Health News

USF Health News highlights the great work of the faculty, staff and students across the four health colleges – Morsani College of Medicine, College of Public Health, College of Nursing and Taneja College of Pharmacy – and the multispecialty physicians group. USF Health, an integral part of the University of South Florida, integrates research, education and health care to reach our shared value - making life better.