South Florida Hospital News
Wednesday January 20, 2021

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March 2018 - Volume 14 - Issue 9


Baptist Plans to Rebuild Fishermen’s Community Hospital

Five months after Hurricane Irma severely damaged Fishermen’s Community Hospital in Marathon, acquired last summer by Baptist Health South Florida, plans are officially underway to rebuild. 

“We committed to the Middle Keys back on July 1 when we acquired Fishermen’s, well before the hurricane hit,” says Rick Freeburg, Chief Executive Officer of both Fishermen’s Community Hospital and Mariners Hospital. “Baptist Health is here to stay. We’re still committed to providing high-quality healthcare to the Middle Keys community.”
Construction of the $40 million facility is anticipated to begin during the first half of 2019, with a goal of raising $15 million of that total through philanthropy.
Fishermen’s Community Hospital, which was initially built in 1959, joined the Baptist Health family in July 2017 as an all-purpose, critical access hospital offering a 24/7 emergency room, inpatient and outpatient surgery, diagnostic imaging, lab testing, and physical and occupational therapy.
Since September, Fishermen’s opened a field hospital on the current grounds to continue to serve the Middle Keys community.  The field hospital offers emergency care, diagnostic equipment and a lab. Baptist Health will invest $3 million to replace this field hospital with a custom-designed modular hospital in the same location, with expanded capabilities and staffing that will remain in place until the entirely new facility opens.
“The modular hospital will be built on the current parking lot,” says Freeburg. “We’ll have some inpatient capabilities, along with imaging rooms and labs, and other services such as physical therapy and respiratory therapy. We won’t have an operating room, instead patients will go to Mariners Hospital if they need surgery.”
The new hospital, expected to break ground in early 2019, will consist of approximately 25 beds, a 24/7 emergency room, inpatient and outpatient surgery, diagnostic imaging, lab testing, and physical and occupational therapy. To make more efficient use of space, the hospital plans to feature LEED-certified construction and reduce its footprint to about 40,000 square feet. The former facility used about 76,000 square feet.
“Fishermen’s was a 52-bed hospital so there was a lot of excessive room,” says Freeburg. “Healthcare has changed since then—there were more inpatients when it was constructed. Today, 85 percent of our business is done on an outpatient basis because of advances in healthcare technology. We don’t need to build the same size that was built in the 1950s.”
To recruit new medical staff, Baptist Health plans to emphasize living in the Keys as well as its reputation for being an exemplary employer.
“People love to come and visit the Keys, so why wouldn’t you want to live here,” says Freeburg. “So we’ll be pushing that aspect. Since there’s a strong existence of Baptist Health’s reputation for being a good employer, we expect that might draw some employees as well.”
Of course, funding will be a challenge as well. To support the major initiative, Baptist Health Foundation – the fundraising division of Baptist Health South Florida – will launch the “Our Community, Your Hospital” campaign to achieve the philanthropic goal for Fishermen’s.
In a press release, Fishermen’s Community Hospital Board Chair, Jay Hershoff, Esq., stated, “Baptist Health and its physicians, staff and volunteers need community support to make this happen. Through the generosity of the community and that of Baptist Health, the dedicated staff at Fishermen’s can continue to provide the high-quality, compassionate care that they have delivered for the last six decades.”

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