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Baptist Health Wants To Build $70M Hospital In Clay County

Baptist Clay Medical Campus

Baptist Health is asking Florida healthcare regulators for permission to build a 100-bed hospital in Clay County.

A county-wide assessment by the Health Planning Council of Northeast Florida shows access to healthcare is severely lacking in the area.

Baptist is proposing a facility that would employ around 400 people and serve 100 patients. It would be on the same property where the company first set up shop about two years ago.

Last month, a health assessment showed the Fleming Island area to be more medically underserved than the state average. And that bolsters the hospital’s case says Baptist Clay Administrator Darin Roark.

“There’s about 95 fewer beds per 100,000 members of the population, which signifies definitely a need for more inpatient beds in Clay County,” Roark said.

But Emily Suter with the Health Planning Council of Northeast Florida is careful not to draw any direct conclusions.

“We cannot directly correlate data, but a lack of health care access can have a lot of negative health outcomes,” Suter said. She says those outcomes include higher rates of heart disease and cancers

Last session, the Florida House of Representatives tried, but failed to pass a bill that would have done away with a hospital-approval process called certificate of need.

Roark says the streamlining would’ve made it easier to begin construction on the proposed facility. Baptist has until October to submit a formal application for approval by the state.

UPDATE: 8/12/2015 2:11 p.m. - The link in the article was updated to direct to the assessment. 

Ryan Benk is a former WJCT News reporter who joined the station in 2015 after working as a news researcher and reporter for NPR affiliate WFSU in Tallahassee.