Baptist Health Hospital demolition completed this week - A close up of a brick building - Baptist Hospital

The final walls will come down on Friday, March 15 at Fishermen’s Community Hospital. The Baptist Health South Florida facility was destroyed by Hurricane Irma in 2017, and the crumbling edifice is being removed to make way for a state-of-the-art hospital. The groundbreaking is set for December 2019, and construction is expected to be complete in 18 months. 

Rick Freeburg, chief executive officer of Mariners Hospital in Tavernier, and Fishermen’s Community Hospital gave a brief presentation to the Marathon City Council on March 12.

Since the modular temporary hospital has been installed, Baptist Health has reportedly slowed its operational losses from $1 million a month, to about $500,000, Freeburg said. In the 17 months the group has operated the Marathon hospital, it has seen 10,200 patients in the emergency room, provided imaging procedures for another 6,000 patients, and treated 14,300 in its outpatient division. It has admitted 14 patients, for a total of 28 days in-patient care.

“Baptist Health South Florida has sent more than $45 million for Fishermen’s Community Hospital in capital investment and operating losses since its acquisition in 2017,” Freeburg told the council. 

Mike Leonard, chairman of the Fishermen’s Community Hospital Foundation, is positively giddy over the success of its fundraising campaign. 

“To date, we have raised $11,300,000 of our $15 million goal and we expect to reach our goal by May 1,” Leonard said. He reported that the foundation has signed up 59 “founders” — a person who donates $60,000 or more to the hospital — in the past year, and signed up 35 “young philanthropist” members. Leonard also said 410 individuals and businesses have made charitable donations to the foundation through sponsorships, donating raffle items, and the purchase of bricks. 

In July 2018, the Monroe County Board of County Commissioners approved a special taxing district to support the hospital’s indigent care (non-paying patients) costs. The ad-valorem tax, which rolled out in 2019, is 0.5 mills or less for a maximum of 10 years. The goal, hospital officials have said, is to raise about $15 million, in addition to the $15 million in charitable donations. Freeburg did not offer any details about the hospital’s recent costs for indigent care, nor did the council ask for that data.

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