BayCare’s medical facilities in Polk County have an almost $800 million economic impact, according to a 2020 study from the economic consulting firm Washington Economics Group (WEG).

“BayCare’s economic impact in Polk County has continued to increase with $799 million annually, a 48% increase from 2016,” said Vjollca “Viola” Hysenlika, communications strategist for BayCare Health System.

BayCare’s annual economic impact in Florida is $8.5 billion, according to WEG. In addition to Polk County, its annual impact in nearby counties that it serves is:

  • $3.2 billion in Pinellas County.
  • $2.9 billion in Hillsborough County.
  • $348 million in Pasco County.

WEG’s study for BayCare includes direct, indirect and induced economic impacts generated by ongoing operations that include employment, household income, gross domestic product (GDP), and federal, state and local tax revenues, Hysenlika said.

The non-profit health care system offers a wide range of services at 15 hospitals and hundreds of other locations in West Central Florida. Its mission “is to improve the health of all we serve through community-owned, health care services that set the standard for high-quality, compassionate care,” according to its website.

In Polk County, BayCare operates Winter Haven Hospital, Winter Haven Women’s Hospital and Bartow Regional Medical Center. The two Winter Haven hospitals support more than 4,000 jobs, an increase of 20% since WEG did its last economic impact study for BayCare in 2016.

“BayCare will continue to build its brand and reputation by focusing on clinical excellence and optimal customer service for every patient. That’s our top priority across the system and for all of our facilities in Polk County,” Hysenlika said.

“The east side of Polk County is very fortunate to have such a wonderful community-based hospital like BayCare-Winter Haven Hospital to serve our population,” said hospital Board Chair, Todd Dantzler.

“Along with the medical and physical needs, Winter Haven Hospital serves as a huge economic driver in our community as well. It provides a very large number of quality, high-paying jobs, employs smart and creative folks who give back to our community and are an integral part of the success of our area.  Baycare-Winter Haven Hospital’s commitment to care serves as an example for other businesses to emulate.  Not just the financial impact they create but the impact as a whole on the well being of our folks”.

Investing in Facilities, Services

BayCare also plans capital improvements, adding innovative equipment and state-of-the-art facilities that are expected to generate $4.8 billion in economic impact throughout its health system through 2025, said Nafari Vanaski, communications coordinator at BayCare Health System. “These capital improvements will help enhance overall quality care and efficiency throughout the system.”

Like many other businesses and health care facilities, COVID-19 has affected capital improvement plans. Still, BayCare is continuing to look at upgrading, renovating and adding new facilities and services — both for inpatient and outpatient care. “We’re continuing to grow and expand access to services in the Polk County area to help serve the community,” Hysenlika said. “Winter Haven Hospital is planning for a 24-bed expansion in 2021 to help meet the needs of patients in the area.”

In the last four years, BayCare has invested more than $100 million to renovate the Emergency Department and build the Bostick Heart Center and Critical Care Units at Winter Haven Hospital. It also constructed an academic training facility/clinic for the hospital’s new physician residency program and continued to invest in new medical technology.

That residency program — a partnership with Florida State University College of Medicine — is going well, Hysenlika said. “The system welcomed its first residents this summer and is now starting to receive applications for the second class of residents. In fact, in just the first few weeks of taking applications, the program has received nearly a thousand already. So far, the program has gone smoothly, and clinical staff involved are thrilled to have an opportunity to teach a new generation of physicians.”

Winter Haven Hospital President Steve Nierman said Winter Haven Hospital exists to serve everyone in the community.

“Our highest priority is to improve health by providing both high-quality and compassionate healthcare. All members of the Winter Haven Hospital team consider this responsibility to be an honor and a privilege.”

The Future

BayCare’s goal for the foreseeable future will continue as it is now: to provide high-quality care to Polk County patients, Hysenlika said.

“The health care industry continues to change, and we will continue to evolve with it. We expect future changes and significant growth in health care across the country, including how, when and where we deliver care to patients. We’re going to continue to adapt to those changes and help provide convenient access to care.”

BayCare earned its reputation as a premier health system by “using established clinical and customer service benchmarking data,” she said. “That’s evident in Polk County. Patients throughout this community choose us because of our reputation. We’re proud to say that we have an experienced team of clinicians and team members. They help provide high-quality care to each patient who walks through our doors, whether they come to our hospitals, primary care offices or urgent care clinics.”