AdventHealth to Open New Hospital in Winter Haven; Orlando Health to Expand Into Lakeland
by PAUL CATALA
Healthcare facilities are expanding at an astounding rate to match the population boom and increased need in Central Florida.
AdventHealth is expanding its footprint in Polk County with a new four-story hospital and emergency department off Cypress Gardens Boulevard in Winter Haven. In Lakeland, Orlando Health is expanding, planning a hospital and surrounding campus in the fast-growing South Lakeland area.
This planned construction is further evidence of the growth in Polk County, which expanded from 603,000 residents in 2010 to 753,500 by 2021.
AdventHealth, a Seventh-Day Adventist nonprofit healthcare system headquartered in Altamonte Springs, recently announced its plans for a new, four-story hospital in Winter Haven.
The 42 acres north of Cypress Gardens Boulevard, south of River Lake and west of Cypress Gardens Road will eventually become a medical campus for the 192-bed AdventHealth Winter Haven hospital with an emergency department and 160,000 square feet of medical offices and ancillary facilities.
The AdventHealth expansion plans were given final approval when the Winter Haven City Commission unanimously approved the development November 14.
“The southeast section of Winter Haven is growing in leaps and bounds, and this will make it a lot easier when time is sensitive for medical issues for the citizens to get medical care,” says Winter Haven City Commissioner J.P. Powell.
“It’s necessary. The other alternative was going to Lake Wales or Haines City, and with medical issues. time is of the essence. It will be a real asset.”
According to AdventHealth, the first phase of construction will include a freestanding emergency room that will open before the hospital is completed. Once open, hospital services will include primary care, cardiology, gastroenterology, orthopedic, and urological specialty medical services.
Tim Clark, president and CEO of the AdventHealth Polk Market, has worked at AdventHealth for 19 years in various positions. He started as president and CEO of the Polk Market on June 5. He says the new hospital will bring “whole-person care to residents close to home,” particularly in the southeast section of Winter Haven.
Once completed, the new hospital will be part of a network of AdventHealth centers already operational in areas such as Carrollwood (Tampa), Dade City, Lake Placid, Lake Wales, Sebring, and Wauchula. It will also be among five freestanding offsite AdventHealth emergency rooms, including those in Brandon, Palm Harbor and Tampa’s Westchase community.
In addition to AdventHealth, Orlando Health’s foray into Polk County will help to create more medical access points, particularly along Interstate 4, for individuals living in South Lakeland.
Founded more than 100 years ago, Orlando Health is a nonprofit healthcare organization with $7.6 billion in assets that is headquartered in Orlando and serves the southeastern United States.
Orlando Health’s Lakeland Highlands Hospital will be located on 80 acres south of the Polk Parkway at Lakeland Highlands Road and the Winter Lake Extension Road. Pre-construction work is already underway, and construction will begin in early 2023 with an expected opening in summer 2026, according to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg. The first phase of the multi-story hospital will have 136 inpatient beds and 24 emergency department beds. Plans for future phases call for an expansion to 360 beds.
Orlando Health officials have already been meeting with City of Lakeland officials and community leaders over the past several months.
“When we open, we will have enough capacity in Phase I to address immediate needs that will serve us for the first four to five years of operation,” says John Moore, senior vice president of Orlando Health West Region and president of Bayfront Health St. Petersburg.
“Going forward, expansion will be based on analytics and will occur in phases of approximately 90- to 120-bed increments.”
Orlando Health will build in an area already served by Lakeland Regional Hospital and Bartow Memorial Medical Center and has used market data to bring medical services to areas where additional medical care is needed.
The new Orlando Health Lakeland Highlands Hospital is planned to include a 20,000-square-foot ambulatory surgical center; 240,000 square feet of medical office space; a 20,000 square feet of retail space; and a 150-room hotel to accommodate patients and their families.
“Hotel accommodations play an important role when providing health care,” says Moore, who’s responsible for developing, leading, and implementing the hospital’s strategic and operational direction.
“They are an extremely important factor when discussing outpatient procedures, especially for those driving in who have a procedure on day one and a follow-up appointment with a surgeon the next day.”
Moore says Orlando Health’s strategic planning team conducted research and reviews to determine areas in Polk County that are lacking in certain medical services that can be provided by Orlando Health. He cites Lakeland Regional Hospital having the highest-volume emergency department in the area, “which is a challenge for any one facility to manage.”
Additionally, Orlando Health Lakeland Highlands Hospital will have a larger inpatient capacity than what was originally planned, says Dr. Jamal Hakim, chief operating officer.
“As one of the state’s fastest growing communities, Orlando Health recognizes that it needs to accelerate its delivery of high-quality, outcome-based health care to these communities,” he says. “We are excited about our revised plan and its many benefits for the community.”
The addition to Polk County — and more specifically Lakeland’s — health care options are welcome, says Lakeland Mayor Bill Mutz. He says the city’s growth must consider how it enhances “quality of life through community health.”
“Orlando Health’s Lakeland expansion provides expanded services on a timely basis to support our growth,” says Mutz. “The significant capital investment and historical quality of health care provided by Orlando Health will become a timely and necessary addition for our citizens.”