Op-Ed

Bringing healthcare to ‘hospital desert’

TNS

Imagine jogging in Doral Meadow Park and suddenly feeling chest pains.

Imagine your spouse becoming dizzy and passing out during a show at Miami Springs’ Rebeca Sosa Theater.

Imagine getting a call that your child was taken to the hospital from Ruben Dario Middle School.

Now imagine how much scarier it is to know the closest emergency room is four, five, even six miles

away.

For too long, the vibrant communities in fast-growing west Miami-Dade have been starved of proper emergency medicine — residents effectively live in a healthcare desert.

That’s doubly shameful in a community where one of the world’s best providers of emergency medicine is owned by those same taxpayers.

This month, Jackson Health System is poised to expand its footprint and continue fulfilling its mission with the creation of Jackson West, an innovative new outpatient medical campus in Doral. Jackson West would launch a free-standing emergency room for adults and children alongside a pediatric outpatient center featuring some of the world’s most advanced care for young patients.

The partnership between Jackson and the University of Miami has been trusted and embraced in South Florida for decades — it’s time to finally make that care accessible in west Miami-Dade.

Families in neighborhoods such as Sweetwater, Westchester and West Miami would have a convenient place to bring their children for the most sophisticated care.

The site, which Jackson has negotiated to purchase for less than its average appraised value, is also large enough to prepare for the future. One day we might offer even more outpatient services such as same-day surgery, dialysis, chemotherapy, worker’s compensation, a wellness center or other healthcare programs.

The project would be funded by Jackson’s own recent operating surplus and the Jackson Miracle-Building Bond overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2013. An independent analysis suggests Jackson West would earn a financial surplus in its second full year of operation and pay for itself in less than a decade. This is part of Jackson’s long-term strategy to maintain our high standards and public mission while becoming less dependent on public funding.

Hospital systems that cannot grow to include outpatient services are doomed to fail in this new era of healthcare. Jackson is committed to growing smartly and growing stronger, following the models that have helped other public-health systems thrive. It’s part of the same strategy that’s driving us to open urgent-care centers across Miami-Dade. We expect to announce the first locations in the next few months.

This plan has been subject to careful review, including independent experts, the Public Health Trust Board of Trustees and the Jackson Bond Citizens’ Advisory Committee. The verdict was unanimous: Jackson West is a sound investment for Jackson’s taxpayer-owners and an important evolution in our healthcare network.

The final decision about the Jackson West site rests with the Miami-Dade County Commission, which we hope will approve this decision this month. As a community, we’ve been talking for almost two years about this targeted vision to bring Jackson into the future. If you’re excited to see projects like this, join us in telling your elected officials.

Details about the Jackson West project can be found at www.JacksonMiracleBuildingBond.com, and we’re always taking questions and comments at info@jhsmiami.org.

Almost 600,000 people live within five miles of Jackson West’s proposed site. The closest emergency rooms are four to six miles away, through frequently heavy traffic. For people in communities such as Fontainebleau, Sweetwater, Miami Lakes and Doral, it is long past time to have a Jackson facility within reach.

Carlos A. Migoya is president and chief executive officer of Jackson Health System. Darryl K. Sharpton is the chairman of the Public Health Trust Board of Trustees.

  Comments