POINCIANA – It took so very long to get state approval, and then financing to begin construction, that a lot of Poinciana residents came to the pessimistic conclusion that it just wasn’t going to happen.
But when the Poinciana Business Expo was held on Saturday, March 10, Joanna Conley was there, with a table, handing out information to the public about a subject that everyone has wanted to know more about for years: the new hospital that Osceola Regional Medical Center in Kissimmee is building in Poinciana.
It’s a subject that Conley knows quite a bit about, since she’s been appointed the new chief operating officer for the Poinciana Medical Center, a project that will include a hospital, a free-standing emergency room facility, and a separate medical arts office building.
Groundbreaking started on Feb. 7, and Conley said she attended the Poinciana Business Expo, held at the Poinciana Community Center, because she wanted to reassure the community that this project was right on track.
“Right now, we are working on the foundation of the hospital,” Conley said, adding that this work started on Feb. 18. Since then, the cement has been poured for the footer, or the platform that the foundation of the building rests on.
“We poured our first footer on March 2,” she said. “That is the start of the foundation of the hospital.”
Construction will continue into 2013, for the hospital that will be at 325 Cypress Parkway in Poinciana, right across the street from the Solivita development.
“The construction will continue, obviously, throughout the next year,” Conley said.
It’s a project that this community of 84,000 residents that cuts across Polk and Osceola counties has been eagerly waiting for – and waiting for. Osceola Regional Medical Center’s application to the state to build this hospital was twice rejected, after two neighboring hospitals – Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center and St. Cloud Regional Medical Center – challenged the required certificate of need, saying a new hospital in this area would exacerbate an existing nursing shortage.
Under pressure from state Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, and former Gov. Charlie Crist, the state government finally approved the certificate of need in 2008, only to see the collapse in the Central Florida housing market, and the subsequent credit crunch, make it difficult to secure to funding needed to get the project going.
Now, Conley said, all that is behind them.
“We are expected to open the full hospital in the summer of 2013,” Conley said.
That’s great news for the community, said Jeanette Coughenour, manager of the Association of Poinciana Villages, the homeowners association that supervises Poinciana’s 10 villages.
“I can’t tell you how excited we are about this,” she said.
Once the hospital opens, Poinciana Medical Center will be a two-story, 100,000 square foot building with 24 private medical-surgical beds and a six bed intensive care unit. To support both inpatient and outpatient care, the facility will provide a full range of acute care services including emergency services, diagnostic imaging, cardiac catheterization, a laboratory, pharmacy, and full range of support services.
The Emergency Department will be 11,000 square feet building, with 12 exam rooms, and will offer ultrasound, radiology and fluoroscopy technology.
There will also be a helicopter pad for rapid transport of critically ill patients to Osceola Regional Medical Center.
“We expect to hire about 200 employees,” Conley said. In addition to physicians and nurses, that will include food service workers, house keepers, administrative staff, and other support services.
“The emergency department will be open at the same time as the hospital,” Conley said. The campus will also house a freestanding medical office building with leasable square footage for physicians and other health care providers. This will be a 40,000 square foot building.
“It will be primarily for physicians,” Conley said.
Osceola Regional and its parent company, HCA the Hospital Corporation of America, are spending $65 million on this project.
Conley was appointed the Poinciana Medical Center’s chief operating officer on March 1. She had previously served as the associate chief operating officer and ethics and compliance officer at Osceola Regional Medical Center, starting in 2009.
Her initial responsibilities in this new position will include connecting with the Poinciana community and local businesses, overseeing the construction of Poinciana Medical Center, and working to enhance the availability of medical services in the area.
“I think it’s very exciting to be bringing health care services to the community, as well as jobs,” Conley said. “This is a very unique opportunity for me personally, and I’m very excited to be bringing these services to Poinciana.”
Nick Murdock, the chairman of the Poinciana Economic Development Alliance, which is working to bring more jobs and economic growth to the community, said Conley has been very supportive of their efforts, including their attempts to organize a job fair in the spring.
“She’s very excited to be a part of the community,” Murdock said.
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