Lee Memorial Health System unveiled plans this morning for a sprawling, $140 million medical campus for south Lee County that would include a free-standing ER, an outpatient surgical center, doctors offices, imaging and rehabilitation services.
The "Lee Memorial Health System - Coconut Point" project would go up on about 30 vacant acres next to the Bonita Community Health Center, just south of the Coconut Point shopping center. It could open as early as 2017, according to preliminary plans.
Health system officials called the idea a "destination" health center – meaning that a wide array of repair and preventative medical providers would be under the same roof and share information. Larry Antonucci, the health system's chief operating officer, likened it to the Regional Cancer Center, which houses a wide array of treatment facilities in the same location.
Hospitals, by contrast, often must refer patients elsewhere for specialty and follow-up care.
"It's the evolution of care from provider-centric to patient-centric," Antonucci said this morning in an interview with The News-Press.
Health system administrators will present the plans to the organization's elected governing board this afternoon.
They will not ask for funding until next year. The health system, which is still building a $242 million children's hospital in south Fort Myers, would likely fund the project through a combination of cash reserves, borrowing, private fund raising and still-undetermined corporate partnerships, said health system CEO Jim Nathan.
The campus will include space for retail use, as well as other health-related uses, such as adult day care. The health system will operate many of the services, though a number will be offered by independent practitioners working under a cooperative agreement with the organization.
"This project is not just about the brick and mortar of the building," Nathan said in a written statement. "What patients will experience here is an integrated form of healthcare delivery currently not found in our community."
Health system officials do not yet know how many jobs the project might create or how many health care workers would eventually staff the facility.
The Coconut Point campus would allow the health system to greatly expand health careservices in the fast-growing, and affluent, Bonita Springs/Estero community. It also gets around the state's rejection last year of its first plan for the area — an 80-bed acute care hospital.
Health system president and CEO Jim Nathan had promised "a hospital, but without beds" after the state nixed the hospital concept.