Aventura Hospital Seeks Approval For Major Expansion
After recently opening its expanded emergency room, Aventura Hospital & Medical Center will seek city approval for even bigger growth with new patient beds and a parking garage.
On June 14, the city commission was scheduled to vote on the proposal by the hospital, which is owned by HCA Corp. (NYSE: HCA). It has requested a larger setback from the street, increased density and less open space in order to accommodate its site plan.
The 407-bed Aventura Hospital & Medical Center is located on the 19.7-acre site at 20900 Biscayne Blvd. It recently completed a $75.6 million emergency department expansion with 22 new rooms. The hospital was designated a Level II trauma center last year.
Aventura Hospital’s new expansion plan calls for a three-story building of 86,900 square feet for patient care plus a 506-space parking garage. The patient care building would be on the east side of the existing south tower and feature 60 patient rooms, waiting rooms and a lounge.
During construction of the building in what is now a parking lot, the hospital would lease off-site parking for its employees and provide them with shuttle service until the new parking garage is done, according to the application.
The patient tower was designed by is Earl Swensson Associates in Nashville, Tennessee and the parking garage was designed by R.R. Simmons in Tampa.
An official from HCA couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
“The proposed improvements will enable the hospital to expand its services and continue to provide outstanding health benefits to Aventura residents and the surrounding communities,” Shutts & Bowen attorney Alexander I. Tachmes, stated in the hospital’s application to the city. “The addition will provide additional beds that need to be connected to the main hospital building on the east campus to provide efficient patient care and maximize the use of resources, including services, equipment and staff. It will also enhance patient comfort, safety and security by allowing easy access between departments without forcing patients to leave the building.”
House Republicans Push To Give Hospitals Greater Say In Expansion
For four decades, hospitals wanting to expand or open new facilities have had to get the state to agree there’s a need for more healthcare in their community.
It’s a rule that Republicans in the Florida House say creates unnecessary burdens on the free market. This week, they’ll be passing a bill to repeal it.
But opponents of the repeal worry that allowing hospitals to build beds wherever they want will encourage health facilities to build in wealthy areas, leaving poor communities with limited options and safety net hospitals strapped for cash.
Legislation (HB 7) to repeal the regulations, called certificate of need (CON), is expected on Wednesday to pass the Florida House, where it is a priority of Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes. It also has the endorsement of Gov. Rick Scott, who called it one of his top healthcare priorities this year.
Supporters of repealing CON say the bill eliminates regulations that limit hospital beds in a community, stifle competition, inspire costly legal fights over hospital construction and raise healthcare costs.
“Removing it will eliminate a lot of these unnecessary barriers to entry,” said Rep. Alex Miller, R-Sarasota, who is sponsoring the repeal legislation in the House.
But the legislation’s odds appear slim. Similar bills in the Florida Senate have not had a single hearing.
That’s good news for Democrats in the House. Rep. Evan Jenne, D-Dania Beach, called it “one of the worst bills this session.”
Democrats and others say getting rid of CON is unnecessary and might reduce the quality of care by overcrowding the market.
“Won’t repealing CON create a two-tiered system: One for the insured living in wealthy areas and one for uninsured in low-income areas?” said Rep. John Cortes, D-Kissimmee.
The state’s safety net hospitals oppose repealing CON for exactly that reason.
They worry about getting stuck with large numbers of patients on Medicaid, who pay less than the cost of care provided, or who have no health coverage at all.
But Miller says safety net hospitals like Jackson Health System, Tampa General and Johns Hopkins All Children’s get incentives to take on charity care cases with extra Medicaid funding.
What’s more, she doesn’t expect too many new hospitals to open.
“There’s not a big appetite to build new bed towers,” Miller said. “They’re very expensive. They cost $1.5 million per bed, so often they can be $100 million or $200 million just to build a bed tower.”
Thirteen states have taken CON off the books already, and proponents say the effect has been minor in hospitals. States with the restrictions have just 13 percent fewer hospital beds than those without the restrictions.
Source: Miami Herald
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