Baptist Health plans new hospital in Clay County

FLEMING ISLAND, Fla. - Baptist Health plans to build a new hospital with up to 100 acute care beds in Clay County.

The corporation filed a letter of intent with the Agency for Health Care Administration about the plan to build a new hospital on the Baptist Clay Medical Campus.

The letter filed on Aug. 3 under Baptist Medical Center of Clay, Inc. is the first step toward submitting a Certificate of Need application in the fall review cycle. A decision by AHCA is expected in December.

"Our goal is to expand health care services to Clay County residents while building on our current presence at the Baptist Clay Medical Campus," said Hugh Greene, Baptist Health president and CEO. "Providing accessibility to quality health care has been a part of Baptist Health's mission for almost 60 years. We want to continue to provide Clay County residents with more options so residents can receive their health care needs close to home, including expanding primary care and specialty care services in the county."

Preliminary results from a Clay County community health assessment from the Clay County Health Department and the Health Planning Council of Northeast Florida shows Clay County not only has a need for more hospital beds based on its population, but has a "significantly lower rate of licensed physicians compared to the state average."

The report shows Clay County has an average of 225 hospital beds per every 100,000 residents while Florida's average is 320 hospital beds, resulting in 95 fewer hospital beds per 100,000 people based on 2013 figures.

"Clay County residents are significantly underserved when it comes to hospital beds and physicians," said Darin C. Roark, administrator of the Baptist Clay Medical Campus and Baptist Health emergency services. "Our goal is to not only add beds, but bolster our primary care presence and bring health care resources closer to the community so residents don't have to leave the county for their health care needs. We want to give them a choice of treatment closer to home."

Since opening the freestanding pediatric and adult emergency center in May 2013, the Baptist Clay Medical Campus has seen more than 48,000 adult and pediatric emergency room visits through June 2015, an average of 1,854 visits per month.

"We have received a great welcome from the residents of Clay County and we are dedicated to continuing to meet their health care needs," Roark said. "Not a day goes by where a Clay County resident doesn't ask me, ‘When is Baptist going to add hospital beds?' We are very excited to answer their needs."

The new hospital would be located on the 32-acre Baptist Clay Medical Campus on Fleming Island and enhance the existing Baptist & Wolfson Children's Emergency Center and outpatient and diagnostic services, Baptist Health officials said in a news release.

"Our goal in building this campus is to continue to demonstrate a positive impact to the surrounding community," Roark said. "We want to build a community hospital, not just a place to come when you are sick, but a gathering place for health promotion events and activities."

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