Mariners Hospital, a 42-bed facility in the Upper Florida Keys community of Tavernier, has settled a certificate-of-need dispute with the state and Health Management Associates.
The settlement allows Mariners to construct a 42-bed replacement facility. HMA, a Naples, Fla.-based for-profit chain, owns Fishermen's Hospital, which is 25 miles southwest of Mariners in Marathon, Fla.
HMA initially opposed the new Mariners hospital, contending it wasn't needed and that it would have a "substantial adverse impact" on Fishermen's.
Florida officials were concerned about how the new hospital would be financed and whether local demand justified a larger facility that offers more services. Mariners supplied additional information on how the new facility would be financed, said Tammy Hillen, a Mariners spokeswoman. Mariners was built in the late 1950s as a nine-bed clinic.
The new facility, expected to open during the summer of 1998, will increase the size of the current hospital to 65,000 square feet from 42,000 square feet, Hillen said.
Last year, Mariners affiliated with Baptist Health Systems, a four-hospital system based in Miami. Baptist agreed to help fund construction of the $15.6 million replacement hospital and guarantee payment of a tax-exempt bond to finance the hospital.
Mariners officials also convinced the state that 65% of the patients in the Upper Keys leave the area for healthcare services in Miami, she said. "We can serve those patients with a larger and more modern facility," Hillen said.
Under terms of the agreement with the state and HMA, Baptist will accept transfers of emergency patients who require specialty care from Fishermen's.
"The arrangement formalizes patient transfer so they don't have to try to call four to five hospitals," Hillen said. A Baptist spokeswoman added that agreements also have been made with emergency physicians at Baptist's two tertiary hospitals to accept patient transfers.