SOUTH FORT MYERS — Naples-based Health Management Associates is giving $750,000 to the new Children's Hospital of Southwest Florida in Lee County, becoming the first hospital company to donate to the project.
Half of HMA's contribution will be made by Oct. 26 and the remaining half will be forthcoming by the same time next year, according to a letter from Alan Levine, HMA's senior vice president, to Lee Memorial's chief executive officer, Jim Nathan.
Levine said HMA had made contributions to partner hospitals in other communities but not of this magnitude. In this case, HMA and Lee Memorial don't have a partnership.
"We do various things in other communities to support common causes and this one was important," Levine said.
He added that HMA has 4,000 employees from Charlotte County south to Collier County and some employees' children have needed specialized care at the children's hospital. Even though HMA and Lee Memorial are competitors on one level, HMA also recognizes what's good for the larger community, he said.
Locally, HMA operates Lehigh Medical Center, east of Fort Myers, and Physicians Regional Healthcare System with two campuses, Pine Ridge and Collier Boulevard, in Collier County.
Lee Memorial is planning to start construction next year on the 300,000-square-foot, five-story patient tower with 128 beds for children. Currently, the children's hospital has 98 beds but it has outgrown its space in the HealthPark Medical Center south of Fort Myers. The number of children living in the five-county market served by the hospital continues to grow.
So far, about $54 million has been raised through philanthropy and the goal is to raise half of the $191 million estimated cost.
Recently an anonymous donor pledged $20 million when it can be matched cumulatively by other donors, so that means the HMA donation will be $1.5 million coming in for the project, Lee Memorial spokeswoman Mary Briggs said.
As president of HMA's Florida Group, Levine said he has the authority to make donations to causes but for something of this magnitude, he went to HMA's chief executive officer, Gary Newsome.
"He thought it was a great decision," Levine said.
Nathan, of Lee Memorial, said HMA as a company acts responsibly.
"Looking past competitive differences, and coming together to support something so critical speaks volumes about the leadership team of Health Management (Associates)," Nathan said in a press release.
"We are grateful for their support of the Children's Hospital and look forward to working together in a partnership for creating a world-class regional health-care system for children," Nathan said. "All of our families have a stake in this, and we are so pleased Health Management, even as a competitor, recognizes this."