POINCIANA – Right now it’s just a vast, wide open field, but if there ever was a genuine field of dreams in this community, the one on Solivita Boulevard off Cypress Parkway truly fits the bill.
That’s why so many county leaders joined an overflow crowd of Poinciana residents at the site on Tuesday morning for an event this community has waited years for: the opportunity to take a shovel, toss aside some dirt, and officially break ground on that field as the future home of something so greatly desired in this community.
“Thank you all for being here today for the groundbreaking for the Poinciana Medical Center,” said David Cashwell, chief operating officer at Osceola Regional Medical Center, the hospital in Kissimmee that is building the first hospital in Poinciana, a community of 10 villages cutting across Osceola and Polk counties, where the 84,000 residents now have to travel somewhere else to find a hospital.
“This hospital was a necessity, unless you want to drive 45 minutes to an hour to get to another hospital,” said Osceola County Commissioner John Quinones.
That’s exactly how so many residents felt, as they lobbied hard to convince the state to grant approval to Osceola Regional to build this facility.
“This was a long time coming,” said Annette Brown-Best, co-founder of the Friends of Poinciana Hospital, a group formed to keep this project on track. “This was a lot of hard work.”
But on Tuesday morning, as residents gathered around the shovels that symbolize the start of the construction, it was finally clear the project had truly gotten the green light that residents had waited so very long for.
“We’re adding a hospital for you in the community, and we’re very proud of that,” said Kathryn J. Gillette, chief executive officer at Osceola Regional Medical Center. “This construction and this project will bring immense economic stability to Poinciana.”
Osceola County Commissioner Brandon Arrington agreed, and noted that in addition to much faster and easier access to health care, this project would mean something else critical to Poinciana: jobs.
“What a wonderful day we have here today to be celebrating the expansion of our area,” he said. “That’s the key problem we have here today — we have the houses, but we don’t have the jobs.”
The first phase of the Medical Center, a Freestanding Emergency Department, is expected to open its doors in early 2013. The Emergency Department will be 11,000 square feet and house 12 exam rooms.
The facility will include a 16-slice CT, radiography and fluoroscopy room, ultrasound, laboratory, and pharmacy. The structure will include an EMS entrance and helicopter pad for rapid transport of critically ill patients to Osceola Regional Medical Center in downtown Kissimmee.
Poinciana Medical Center will be a two-story, 90,000 square foot building with 24 private medical-surgical beds and a six bed intensive care unit. The hospital will provide both inpatient and outpatient care, and a full range of acute care services including diagnostic imaging, inpatient and outpatient surgery, cardiac catheterization, laboratory, pharmacy and a full range of support services.
The campus of the medical center will also house a freestanding medical office building with leasable office space for physicians and other health care providers.
Once fully operational, Poinciana Medical Center will employ about 200 full time workers. The entire project will cost $65 million. It will be constructed by Osceola Regional’s parent company, HCA, the Healthcare Company.
J. Daniel Miller, president of HCA’s West Florida division, said this project would take 18 months to complete.
“We’re going to make you guys very proud,” he said. “Congratulations to all of you for making this come to pass.”
HCA is now comprised of locally managed medical facilities that include 164 hospitals and 106 surgery centers in 20 states and Great Britain that employ 183,000 people.
“Today is a very big day for the community of Poinciana,” Cashwell said. “I cannot say enough about the support the people of Poinciana have shown for this project. Our being here today is a tribute to those efforts.”
During the invocation at the start of the groundbreaking ceremony, Pastor Terry Howell of Living Water Fellowship Church, touched on that, noting “We come to celebrate a day of miracles – a day of the answer to many prayers.”
Liz Dudek, the secretary for the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration – which in March 2009 provided the certificate of need to HCA to build the Poinciana Medical Center – said it’s now clear this is a project that the state was right to invest in.
“This is exciting, isn’t it?” she said. “Most people don’t recognize that behind a structure that goes up, there’s a lot of work that goes into it.”
She added the HCA has an impressive track record of constructing quality medical facilities, and added, “I wish you well in this endeavor. I do think you have the best of the best, and I look forward to coming here when it opens.”
The groundbreaking ceremony included the presentation of colors by the Solivita Honor Guard – the Solivita active adult development is across the street off Cypress Parkway – and a performance of the national anthem by students from Liberty High School.
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