Real Estate

Miami medical excellence draws new residents, tourists and dollars

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Miami is an outstanding place to live, work and play. Sunshine, beaches, nightlife, culture, dining, business opportunities (not to mention some amazing houses and condominiums!) These are some of the many reasons why most people consider visiting or moving here. As a 39-year veteran of Miami real estate, I am certainly grateful for these facets of our city and their ability to draw tourists and new residents.

There is, however, another remarkable element of Miami that does not always get enough attention and yet has become a major global attraction: the extraordinarily high quality of our doctors, hospitals, and medical centers. While the number and variety of local health care options have always encouraged relocation to and investment in our community, the past decade has seen a dramatic improvement in the sheer quality and availability of care — and the world has taken notice.

According to a study by Florida Tax Watch and the Agency for Health Care Administration (which reviewed tourists who used local hospital services from 2013-14), the state’s medical tourism market is worth roughly $6 billion. The Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau now offers a robust “medical tourism” section on its web site. I know from experience that many who come initially for health care later make Miami their home.

In May, the Master Brokers Forum hosted a panel discussion on Miami Medical Excellence. The panel included representatives from Jackson Health System, UHealth (the University of Miami Health System), and Baptist Health South Florida, which collectively draw thousands of international patients every year. (For the purposes of this column, we have cited information from these organizations and that forum. It is also worth noting the preeminence of Mercy Hospital, Mount Sinai Medical Center, and Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, among others.)

Expansion means more availability — and options: In recent years, Miami’s health systems have experienced remarkable growth and expansion, bringing high-quality care into more local neighborhoods. In 2001, downtown-based Jackson added its South Community hospital in Palmetto Bay and in 2006, acquired the North Miami Beach facility formerly known as Parkway Regional Medical Center, re-opening it as Jackson North Medical Center. (Jackson plans to add a western campus in Doral, as well as six urgent care centers.) Baptist has also achieved tremendous growth, expanding beyond its original Kendall campus to offer hospitals in Coral Gables, Homestead, Tavernier, South Miami, and West Kendall, plus more than 30 outpatient and urgent care facilities throughout South Florida. All this expansion means more choices (and less driving!) for Miami patients.

Focus on cancer and major organs: Florida’s elected officials deserve a great deal of credit for recognizing our state’s medical excellence, and converting it into an opportunity for economic development. In 2014, Discover Florida Health was introduced as the state’s official medical tourism program, offering millions in grants for destination promotion and medical meetings/training promotion. Our governor and legislature have also invested significant funds, energy, and attention on helping Florida cancer centers sustain and achieve the National Cancer Institute designation, and creating a state-designated Cancer Centers of Excellence program. UHealth’s Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center is one of only four in the state to earn this designation, and the only center of excellence in South Florida. Scheduled to open in 2017, Baptist’s Miami Cancer Institute will be the first in South Florida - and among only a handful in the nation - to offer proton therapy, an advanced treatment that beams radiation directly to tumors, destroying cancer cells while avoiding healthy tissue.

Local excellence in the care and transplanting of major organs has also raised Miami’s global medical profile. The Miami Transplant Institute (MTI), an affiliation between Jackson and UHealth, performs more than 450 multiviseral, heart, lung, and liver transplants each year, for both adults and children. (MTI earned significant attention by accomplishing Florida’s first four-way paired kidney exchange last year.) Baptist’s Miami Cardiac and Vascular Institute is undergoing a $100 million expansion that will leverage its combined resources of internationally renowned physicians, pioneering research, compassionate caregivers and leading-edge treatments and technology.

The world takes notice: I wish there were enough column inches to list all the awards, honors, and recognition these institutions have earned in recent years. U.S. News & World Report’s 2016-2017 “Best Hospital” Rankings included four Baptist facilities on its best regional hospitals list; the same list includes Jackson’s Holtz Children’s Hospital among the nation’s top children’s hospitals, and has also ranked UHealth’s Bascom Palmer Eye Institute the number-one eye hospital in the nation for 15 years. These are included not only to reinforce each system’s respective success, but to clarify how that success has earned global attention.

As Miami continues its evolution into a world-class city, our real estate community applauds these tremendous medical sector achievements. We further commend the government and tourism agencies that promote Miami’s health care offerings, and encourage further investment in this regard.

Miami is indeed the best place to live, to work, to play and to stay healthy!

Pat Klock Parker, who is a member of the Master Brokers Forum, is an agent with Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate, (305) 773-6343, pat@klockparker.com

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