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Wanted: Money To Expand Tampa General

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Tampa General Hospital said it will launch a campaign today to raise $10 million for a planned $120 million expansion, the hospital's largest in two decades.

The project will more than double the size of Tampa General's emergency department and expand several other key departments.

``It's important to the community because we are the only Level 1 trauma center,'' said Ron Hytoff, the hospital's chief executive officer.

Level 1 trauma centers refer to emergency rooms that are equipped to handle the most serious types of trauma and other injuries. They are typically found in large teaching hospitals. TGH is affiliated with the College of Medicine at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

Aside from the emergency department expansion, the project will include a new vascular care center, delivery suites and additional critical care beds.

TGH plans to break ground on the 255,000-square-foot expansion this year.

The Tampa General Hospital Foundation, a fundraising arm, has received commitments for $6 million in donations. Those donations include two $1 million pledges.

One of those came from Stella Ferguson Thayer, chairwoman of the foundation and co-chairwoman of the campaign, and her husband, Bronson Thayer, said Stacey Packer, the foundation's executive director.

Packer declined to disclose the identity of the other $1 million donor.

Hospital employees have pledged $500,000 in donations, Packer said, and physicians have pledged $1 million.

Capital campaigns typically are not announced until an organization has received pledges for more than half of its goal, Packer said.

TGH's campaign follows a financial turnaround that put it solidly in the black after losses in the 1990s. In its past two fiscal years, the not-for-profit hospital has booked a combined $102.3 million in profit.

``People look at the profits, and they see the hospital is doing well,'' Packer said. ``And, if anything, it's restored their faith in the hospital.''

TGH might compete for donations with another big hospital expansion.

University Community Hospital plans a fundraising drive for its new Pepin Heart Hospital & Research Institute. Peter Moeberg, a UCH spokesman, said the campaign has not begun, and the hospital has not disclosed a financial goal.

UCH has said the $40 million project will create one of the most advanced heart hospitals in the country.

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