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New medical center approved for west Delray Beach

Rendering of the South Florida Spine and Orthopedic Institute in west Delray Beach.jpg
Posted at 5:01 PM, Jul 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-22 17:41:59-04

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — A new medical center in Delray Beach was given the green light on Thursday at a Palm Beach County meeting.

The surgeons behind the specialty hospital said it will be the first of its kind in our area. But the project had some opposition and safety concerns.

A nursery sits at the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Smith Sunday Road in west Delray Beach.

Palm Beach County commissioners approved new zoning for this plot in the agricultural reserve to become the South Florida Spine and Orthopedic Institute.

"We really think this will transform medicine," said orthopedic spine surgeon Dr. Robert Norton.

Norton is one of the nearly 30 local surgeons who will work out of the medical campus that will have two buildings, one for the surgery center and one for medical offices.

The meeting on Thursday gained support from local doctors and patients, but there was also opposition to the project being in the ag reserve.

"Our residents do not want this," said resident Lori Venikoor.

Venikoor lives in the area and is with the Delray Beach Alliance. She said they are worried this hospital does not fit the master plan for the ag reserve and could open to door to other projects.

"Delray already has a hospital on the ag reserve," Venikoor said.

Other concerns over safety at the hospital were voiced by president of medical staff Louis Tumminia. He said he worries about the center dealing with complications that can happen during spinal or neurological surgeries.

"Hw will they be able to deal with these complications," Tumminia said.

"We would ability be able to provide the appropriate care for all of our patients in every capacity," Norton said.

Concerns were also raised about the institute potentially not taking Medicare.

"It is a comprehensive care center where we would take anybody for any insurance," Norton said.

County commissioners said they approved the zoning because they are not responsible for deciding if there is a need for the hospital in the community, and this institute met all the zoning requirements from the county.