Florida Keys

It’ll take $40 million to rebuild a hospital battered by Hurricane Irma

This ‘open’ sign at Fishermen’s Community Hospital in Marathon is for its temporary pop-up hospital on the grounds. The hospital itself will be rebuilt next year.
This ‘open’ sign at Fishermen’s Community Hospital in Marathon is for its temporary pop-up hospital on the grounds. The hospital itself will be rebuilt next year. Keynoter

Following extensive roof damage and flooding during Hurricane Irma, Fishermen’s Community Hospital in Marathon will undergo a $40 million rebuild next year.

Baptist Health South Florida, which bought the hospital at mile marker 48.5 oceanside last year, said this week it aims to raise $15 million from donations as part of the $40 million project. Construction will start in early 2019.

It’s the only hospital on the 80-mile stretch from Lower Keys Medical Center in Key West to Mariners Hospital in Tavernier, also a Baptist hospital.

In the meantime, patients in need of a visit to the emergency room can go to the temporary hospital on the Fishermen’s hospital property. It went up two weeks after Hurricane Irma blew through the Florida Keys. About 20 patients are seen there daily.

Chief Executive Rick Freeburg told Monroe County commissioners at their Nov. 14 meeting the pop-up hospital comprising tents and mobile buildings needs to move. The county and Baptist came to an agreement that Baptist could potentially build a new pop-up hospital at the west end of the Florida Keys Marathon International Airport, but that’s no longer happening, according to Baptist spokeswoman Dori Alvarez.

“The current field hospital belongs to the state of North Carolina. We expect to replace the field hospital with a temporary modular facility in the same location this spring,” she said. “That modular facility will operate until the new, permanent facility opens.”

Baptist will still have the option in the next 12 months to lease the land from the county, according to county public information officer Cammy Clark.

At the current pop-up hospital, services available include X-ray imaging and care for heart attacks and strokes. It is staffed with emergency room physicians, nurse practitioners, and radiology and lab technicians.

Baptist operates seven hospitals and multiple outpatient and urgent-care facilities, among other medical centers.

Katie Atkins: 305-440-3219

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