FLEMING ISLAND – Once the speeches and prayer were completed, a group of 100 hospital, civic and local officials turned their attention to crane that towered over six stories of raw steel that make …
FLEMING ISLAND – Once the speeches and prayer were completed, a group of 100 hospital, civic and local officials turned their attention to crane that towered over six stories of raw steel that make up the future of Baptist Medical Center Clay County. With a subtle wave, the diesel engine grunted as it came to life before effortlessly hoisting the final two beams to the roof.
With that, the county’s newest hospital entered its next stage of construction ahead of a planned opening in a year.
“Today is a celebration. We’ve reached the top,” said Baptist Health Board Chairman Richard Sisisky at the Sept. 30 reception. “The sixth floor is framed out. You will continue to see, and no doubt hear, a lot of the construction as we move forward to finish with our construction in the fall of 2022.
“We’re excited to be here. We’re here at the right time and at the right place.”
The 100-room hospital is just the start, according to Darin Roark, president of the Clay County campus, the top two floors essentially will be vacant until an expansion is needed. A year before the hospital accepts its first patient, there already are ideas to keep adding beds.
“We’ve already started thinking about it,” Roark said. “We can expand. We’re ready to go.”
Clay County’s growth rate has been at 18% for the past 10 years, compared to 13% for the rest of the state. With 265,000 residents, Baptist is spending $250,000 to help keep pace. Added with Orange Park Medical Center’s 365 beds and another 106 beds at Ascension St. Vincent’s Clay County in Middleburg, the county soon will have the ability to provide in-patient treatment to as 571 patients.
More important, Baptist has the ability to grow.
“When I look at the construction here, it’s easy to see the steel and the concrete and the shape of the new tower,” said Dr. Michael Mayo, president and CEO of Baptist Health. “And with 20 maternity suites, we will welcome the next generation of children into this world in this very building. What you also don’t see are the 225 plus the 400 team members that will make us the caring hands and hearts to meet the needs of every individual in this community.
“Baptist Health is not about bricks and mortar and technology, although we will use it to leverage the greatest care that we can. We’re about people. We’re about people who care for people and that is our commitment to you, our community friends in Clay County.”
Next door, the renovation of the old VyStar Credit Union’s North Florida call and operations center into the Baptist HealthPlace at Fleming Island continued. Once it’s completed, the 46-acre campus will “be a place of health and wellness for the community,” Roark said. “We will host a variety of health-related events, such as “Talk with a Doc” discussions on a variety of health topics.”
Along with the already-operational Baptist and Wolfson Clay Emergency Room, the entire complex eventually will include a high-tech emergency center, Wolfson’s Children’s Hospital Emergency Room, specialty services, imaging and an Intensive Care Unit.
“Topping Out” moved the hospital one step closer to completion.
“We are really glad, really glad, we are going to have a hospital on the ground,” Sisisky said. “We broke ground here last November, and because of COVID that was postponed. Now it’s three months late. But nothing, and I mean nothing, can now stop this hospital from going up.”