Florida Approves Three New Hospitals For Collier And Lee Counties

Florida regulators have approved plans for three new hospitals in Lee and Collier counties, a decision that reverses the state’s view four years ago that no new health centers were needed in the region.
This means that Lee Health may proceed with plans to build an 82-bed hospital on a medical campus it is already building in Estero.
But it also means that HCA Healthcare, which left Southwest Florida more than a decade ago, may open its own 80-bed hospital and inpatient psychiatric facility near Corkscrew Road and U.S. 41 in that same community. The hospital also would become Lee County’s third receiving facility for people undergoing involuntary mental health evaluations under the state’s Baker Act.
The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration’s ruling on Friday said that both hospitals are needed to meet the needs of a rapidly growing county and to diversify its health care offerings:

“The Agency finds that approval of both applicants, collectively, will increase accessibility and availability of inpatient services while enhancing health care and fostering competition to promote quality and cost effectiveness to residents of the subdistrict.”

A third approved plan from Braden Clinic in Ave Maria calls for the construction of a 25-bed health center in that community.
NCH Healthcare System, which operates the largest hospitals in Collier County and competes with Lee Health for patients in south Lee County, had opposed all three bids.
None of the hospital systems had commented on the decision as of Friday morning.

The Players

The 102-year-old Lee Health, formerly known as Lee Memorial Health System, is a public hospital system governed by an elected 10-person governing board. It operates four acute-care hospitals in Lee County and a variety of specialty clinics and health centers, including The Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.
Lee Health also operates the only trauma center between Sarasota and Miami.
It frequently faces criticism for being a “monopoly” because it operates roughly 95 percent of the adult acute-care hospital beds in Lee County. For now, its only competitor is the 88-bed Lehigh Regional Medical Center in Lehigh Acres.
Nashville-based HCA Healthcare is the nation’s largest hospital operator with 179 hospitals, 120 freestanding surgery centers and a number of medical facilities in 20 states and the United Kingdom.
Its Florida holdings include Fawcett Memorial Hospital in Port Charlotte, Englewood Community Hospital and Doctors Hospital of Sarasota.
Gov. Rick Scott led what was then known as Columbia/HCA between 1987 and 1997. He left amid a federal investigation into its Medicare billing practices, which ultimately forced the company to pay $1.7 billion in penalties and fines between 2000 and 2002.
At the time, it was the largest health care fraud in the nation’s history, according to Politifact.
HCA formerly operated the now-demolished Southwest Florida Regional Medical Center and what was once known as Gulf Coast Hospital. Lee Health acquired both in 2006 in a $535 million deal.
Braden Clinic has been in Ave Maria for several years and provides a number of outpatient medical services, including primary medical care, urgent care and pediatric care. It also offers lab services.
Its hospital would serve Ave Maria, Immokalee and the surrounding rural communities, according to its website. It is expected to offer 24/7 emergency services, a pharmacy, a lab, rehabilitation care, imaging, an infusion center and cardiorespiratory.
Source: Naples Daily News

Trauma Centers vs. Emergency Rooms: In Florida, New Rules Will Settle Long-Running Feuds

In Florida, a long-running healthcare industry legal battle could be coming to an end, thanks to the rare feat of passing bipartisan legislation affecting trauma centers.
The legislature this week passed a bill that will change how trauma centers are distributed throughout the state. It will also designate some HCA facilities as trauma centers, thus ending several legal challenges. And it will establish an advisory council that can help resolve future conflicts.

What exactly is a trauma center?

“Emergency rooms are not trauma centers,” according to the Florida Committee on Trauma. Whereas any emergency room has staff who can treat a broken bone or mild burn, a facility that is designated as a trauma center “has highly trained specialists in-house or immediately available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”
Trauma centers must meet certain state standards and are specially prepared to handle things like major car accidents, severe burns and gunshot wounds. A trauma center can be part of a hospital or in some cases, a stand-alone facility.
Like it or not, healthcare in America is a business, and hospitals must compete for patients, their paying customers. Because hospitals are expensive to run, the state wants enough of them to serve the population, but no so many that patients are spread thin and rates increase. Like about 30 other states, Florida regulates how many hospitals can open, and where. The state regulates trauma centers in similar fashion.
There are 303 hospitals in Florida, 209 of them with emergency departments, according to the Florida Hospital Association. Yet the state has only 27 trauma centers.
Under current regulations, which have been in place for 26 years, a hospital can receive a designation as a Level I, Level II, pediatric or provisional trauma center depending on its offerings. Florida’s 67 counties are divided into 19 “trauma service areas” and only a certain number of trauma centers are allowed in each.
In recent years, for-profit HCA Healthcare pushed to open trauma centers at more of its hospitals. Competitors balked, filing legal challenges that have wound through the courts for a decade.
Some have argued the market should be opened and hospitals should be allowed to open more trauma centers in crowded or lucrative areas. Others have argued that such a move would siphon patients from needier areas and disadvantage rural and community hospitals.
Legislators this year, after exhaustive meetings with hospital industry leaders, said they have finally worked out a compromise. New rules would dictate that no service area can have more than five trauma centers, nor more than one stand-alone pediatric trauma center. The service area borders would be adjusted and the number of areas would drop from 19 to 18. The Department of Health would establish an 11-member Florida Trauma System Advisory Council, which would begin meeting in 2019.
The new rules would also settle the litigation by approving three HCA trauma centers: at Kendall Regional Medical Center, Orange Park Medical Center and Aventura Hospital & Medical Center. One HCA facility, Northside Hospital in St. Petersburg, would not be allowed to proceed with trauma center designation.
The bill passed the state House and Senate unanimously and will go to Gov. Rick Scott for his signature.
Income from red-light camera violations has helped fund trauma centers in Florida to the tune of $12.6M in 2012. Following a mass shooting incident at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Feb. 14, state lawmakers have been considering measures that would take money collected from applications for firearm licenses and direct those funds to trauma centers as well.

Source: Bisnow

Palm Beach County Hospital Buys Nearby Office Building From Public Company For $11M

JFK Medical Center acquired a neighboring medical office building from HCP Inc. for $11.25 million.
The hospital, part of HCA Healthcare (NYSE: HCA), already owned the 2.2-acre site at 5503 S. Congress Ave.
But the 30,745-square-foot building on the property was owned by the Irvine, California-based medical office REIT (NYSE: HCP), which had a ground lease on the property.
The office building was developed in 1993 by Atlantis Medical Center, which sold the underlying land without the building for $1.44 million in 1998 to JFK Medical Center. At that time, the company signed a 99-year ground lease with the hospital. Atlantis Medical Center later became part of HCP through a merger.
The recent sale price of the building equated to $366 per square foot.
In a current online listing, the building has 2,889 square feet available for lease at $20 per square foot.
Source: SFBJ

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