New hospital a reality for eastern Collier County

Mark Lemke, Immokalee Division Director with the Florida Department of Health announced that the Braden Clinic in Ave Maria is moving forward with their plan build a 25-bed acute care general hospital in Ave Maria that would provide 24-hour emergency care.

The first step in the process is to apply for a Certificate of Need (“CON”) application with the state of Florida. In Florida, no hospitals may be built without a Certificate of Need.

A letter of intent to submit an application was filed on February 5, 2018 and in order for the “CON” to be approved, the community must demonstrate the need and desire for a hospital to be built in the area.

The application will be submitted March 7, 2018 and the “CON” decision is expected to be made by June 1, 2018. If approved, it’s expected that construction will begin in December.

“There is a need in Immokalee for adequate and quick access to healthcare. There is a large population that is in desperate need of care” said Dr. Braden of Braden Clinic.

Dr. Braden said that while patients with more severe medical issues may need to be transported to other area hospitals, the Braden Hospital will be able to stabilize patients prior to being transported if the need arises.

Following Hurricane Irma, Immokalee and Ave Maria residents were left isolated with little resources. “We had a tremendous need and little to no resources. This brought home to us the need for a local hospital so that we will have access to healthcare in an emergency” said Dr. Braden.

Additionally, the Braden Hospital will be able to help eliminate lengthy wait times for an ambulance from Collier County EMS.

Currently, there is one ambulance stationed in Ave Maria and two ambulances stationed in Immokalee.

When a patient in Immokalee calls 911 for an ambulance, often times the ambulance is local, but the travel time to the nearest hospital can be as long as 45 minutes. This new hospital would drastically reduce that time to just a matter of minutes.

On a busy day, Collier County EMS is faced with sending an ambulance from Golden Gate Estates to Immokalee to help answer calls for assistance.

While beneficial to Immokalee, moving an additional ambulance to Immokalee creates a larger gap in service in Ave Maria and Golden Gate Estates. A hospital located within minutes of Immokalee not only decreases response times to the hospital, but also helps ensure that ambulances return to service faster after they drop off their patient.
Dr. Braden is asking for everyone to help convince state leaders that a hospital is urgently needed in eastern Collier County.

Some county leaders are already on board with the idea. In his letter of support, County Commissioner Bill McDaniel wrote “The explosive growth our community is already experiencing more than justifies an already existent need. Braden Clinic has been an important part of serving the healthcare needs of our community and this new facility will further expand access to important services in the 34142 zip code area.”

It takes just a matter of minutes to complete the form which can be submitted easily online. Those interested in writing a letter of support may do so electronically at www.BradenHospital.com.

Travis can be reached at ibnews@newszap.com

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