Groundbreaking for new Baptist Clay Medical Campus hospital coming soon

Darin Roark: ‘This is a $206.5 million investment in Clay County’

By Don Coble don@opcfla.com
Posted 11/24/20

FLEMING ISLAND – Although the start of construction is still at least a week away, it doesn’t keep Darin Roark from closing his eyes and imagining the completed project.

The construction …

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Groundbreaking for new Baptist Clay Medical Campus hospital coming soon

Darin Roark: ‘This is a $206.5 million investment in Clay County’

Posted

FLEMING ISLAND – Although the start of construction is still at least a week away, it doesn’t keep Darin Roark from closing his eyes and imagining the completed project.

The construction company trailers already are parked in front of Baptist Clay Medical Center. Orange lines have been spray painted on the pavement and a fence has been installed to create a perimeter.

Land clearing equipment is due at any time. Once a portion of the 33 acres between the medical center and VyStar Credit Union has been cleared, work on a new $206.5 million, 100-bed hospital will start in earnest.

And it can’t come quick enough for Roark, the hospital’s president.

“It’s been an amazing year if you think about it,” Roark said while standing in the parking lot where workers soon will be hammering nails and pouring concrete. “COVID certainly delayed us, but it didn’t stop us. Residents are going to see a lot of changes here in the next two years. We want them to know we’re still open for business. But it’s an exciting time.

“I envision the finished hospital every day. I can’t wait to see what it’s going to look like when it’s done.”

According to Baptist Health, the project will be a 300,000-square-foot full-service hospital on Village Square Parkway with 100 beds, including women’s services and enhanced cardiology services. Diagnostic equipment will be located near the Intensive Care Unit.

Roark said Baptist Health is working to keep pace with Clay County’s rapid growth. Having a facility on Fleming Island will eliminate the need for patients to travel for much-needed medical services.

The new six-floor hospital will be adjoined with the existing Surgery Center at the Baptist Clay Campus which opened in 2018.

The original plans called for an opening in early 2022, but the pandemic and record residential home construction have pushed the project back six months to fall, Roark said.

Real estate has been booming in Clay County during the pandemic, stretching construction companies thin. But work is expected to start in the next couple weeks.

However, COVID-19 gave Baptist Health an opportunity to revisit some of its original plans. The entire fourth floor, which will house the ICU and Stepdown wards, will feature infection control enhancements. The floor will be negatively pressured with fresh air being filtered from the outside, not recirculated.

Fixtures will be touchless in the restrooms.

Once opened, the hospital will employ about 700, Roark said, with an average salary of $70,000 a year.

“This is a $206.5 million investment in Clay County,” Roark said. “We invest our money in the community. If you look at what we’ve done since the recession [20 years ago], we’ve made $1 billion in enhancements and construction projects in Northeast Florida.

“This is the biggest project I’ve overseen. It’s going to bring some much-needed health care to Clay County. We want to meet the need of our residents.”

The hospital will feature large rooms with several onsite amenities like a coffee shop, outdoor dining area and a community room large enough for a meetings or educational programs for as many as 125 people.

Another portion of the project includes a new three-quarter-mile jogging path that will connect to the Black Creek Trail. Since much of the square-footage will be spent on the six floors of the hospital, the clearing of land and trees will be minimal. Roark said an oak grove will remain to buffer on the south side of the property between the facility and local neighborhoods.

“It will be a place of health and wellness,” Roark said.

And it can’t come quick enough.

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