Martin Memorial submits site plans for Tradition hospital

PORT ST. LUCIE — A long-awaited proposal to build a hospital — estimated to create 465 jobs — in Tradition has finally reached the desks of city planners.

Martin Memorial Acquisition LLC submitted formal plans to the city last week for approval of the Tradition Medical Center.

This would be Martin Memorial Health Systems' third hospital in the area.

The company's main hospital in downtown Stuart, Martin Memorial Medical Center, has 244 beds, and Martin Memorial Hospital South, on Salerno Road, has 100 beds. According to the site plan, the Tradition hospital would have 90 beds.

Martin Memorial touts the Tradition hospital as "one of the largest economic development projects ever in St. Lucie County."

The capital investment would exceed $100 million.

The 201,184-square-foot, six-floor hospital would be built on 20 acres at the southwest corner of Tradition Boulevard and Interstate 95. The estimated building cost is $5 million, according to the plans. It includes an Emergency Department, helipad, supporting infrastructure and a stand-alone central energy plant.

The company hopes to break ground in early 2012, Martin Memorial spokesman Scott Samples said. Expected completion is early 2014.

"This is something we've been trying to do for several years, and I think this is something the community has asked for us to do," Samples said. "They have been looking for access to health care in west Port St. Lucie for some time."

Samples said the Tradition hospital would have a capacity to expand to 200 beds as the area and need grow. Not only will the hospital employ about 465 people, with an average annual salary of $53,000, it will also create jobs for the construction phase, Samples said.

The submittal of the plans come nearly 10 months after the First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee ruled against HCA Inc., which had argued that another hospital in the area wasn't necessary.

HCA owns Lawnwood Regional Medical Center & Heart Institute and St. Lucie Medical Center in St. Lucie County.

Martin Memorial began planning for the Tradition hospital in 1998 and in June 2007 received preliminary approval from the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration for a certificate of need.

HCA challenged that approval, and a judge ruled in Martin Memorial's favor in July 2009. The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration approved that recommendation, and HCA, Inc. appealed again in December 2009.

The repeated appeals have cost Martin Memorial about $1.5 million, Samples said.

Martin Memorial owns a 13-bed, free-standing emergency center in St. Lucie West. Since the center opened Sept. 1, 2009, it has seen more than 28,000 patients, exceeding projections, and affirming a growing need for additional health care services, according to hospital information.

Martin Memorial plans to use many local resources and companies to build the project. The hospital selected Dallas-based Balfour Beatty Construction, which has offices in Central and South Florida, as part of an integrated team with HKS Architects and TLC Engineering, to provide design and construction services for the Tradition hospital.

Martin Memorial also is developing educational partnerships with the life sciences organizations within the Tradition Center for Innovation, including the Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies, VGTI Florida and the Mann Research Center. Martin Memorial has collaborated on two research studies with VGTI Florida.

 

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