Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. plans to ask the state of Florida for permission to build a 150-bed hospital in Naples, the first new hospital to be built in the state since 1990.
Getting the state's permission could be a battle. The last hospital built in Florida was 120-bed Gulf Coast Hospital, a Columbia facility in Fort Myers. It took seven years between the time a certificate-of-need application was filed and the hospital opened.
Nina Bottcher, a spokeswoman for the state's health agency, said the length of time between Gulf Coast's application and the hospital's opening could indicate the type of struggle ahead for Columbia. The CON went through years of appeals and litigation before it was approved.
Bottcher said the state surveys the need for additional hospital beds every six months and for the past several years it has failed to report a need for new beds anywhere in the state.
However, rather than add beds to the market, Columbia is asking to transfer 150 licensed beds from the Fort Myers area to a new hospital in the fast growing coastal community of Naples. Naples, which is south of Fort Myers, now has just one hospital, 384-bed Naples Community Hospital.
Even though Columbia isn't adding bed capacity, it still must get a CON for new construction.