Editorial: Children's Hospital of Southwest Florida

It is a given that the huge expansion of Children's Hospital of Southwest Florida at Healthpark Medical Center in South Fort Myers, part of the Lee Memorial Health Care System, will be a big deal.

It will enhance the local options for health care and will provide jobs now and in the future for construction workers and medical professionals.

But Lee Memorial wants to know more than this project will be big. It wants to know how big. And for how long. The $250 million price tag is just the beginning.

Lee Memorial wants to be better able to tell this important story to the community it serves, and these days that community transcends Lee County.

To get the answers, Lee Memorial is going to Florida Gulf Coast University. Lee Memorial has retained Gary Jackson, director of the Regional Economic Research Institute at"FGCU's Lutgert College of Business," for just such a big picture analysis.

Preview:

* $12 million is budgeted just for archiects.

* It will add 300,000 square feet in a five-story children's tower with 128 beds and pediatric emergency room. Currently, the children's hospital inside HealthPark has 98 beds and admits more than 5,000 patients and handles 40,000 outpatient visits a year.

* The new tower will have the capacity to go to 160 beds and aims to meet population growth for 10 years.

* At HealthPark, about 47,000 square feet of today's pediatric space will be converted for adult care, and there will be more parking.

No wonder that Richard Akin, chairman of the Lee Memorial board, says of the new children's hospital: "It is arguably the most important project to come along since FGCU."

© 2012 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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