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Lakeland Regional Health Continues to Provide Access Where It’s Needed 

July 5, 2023 News

Lakeland Regional Health has added another project to its growing list in its effort to increase access to health care in our growing county.   

The latest Lakeland Regional Health project is a $25 million freestanding emergency department that will have 17 beds and three triage rooms. The building will be constructed on 2.2 acres at 6150 South Florida Ave. The location gives patients easy access to South Florida Avenue and County Road 540A.   

“As the healthcare organization that has been a part of this community for over 100 years, we have an important responsibility to care for those we serve,” said President & CEO Danielle Drummond. “Part of our five-year strategic plan is to ensure our patients have access to convenient and high-quality care, both at the medical center and across our community.”  

As the healthcare organization that has been a part of this community for over 100 years, we have an important responsibility to care for those we serve

Danielle Drummond, President & CEO

Projects

The ER follows two other projects:  

  • This summer’s launch of the Graduate Medical Education program. The GME program is designed to help alleviate the shortage of doctors in Polk County. This is an ongoing problem that was highlighted in the latest Community Needs Assessment. LRH expects 190 residents once the program is at full capacity.  
  • A 20-acre, state-of-the-art facility that will provide primary and specialty care services at Interstate 4 and Kathleen Road in the northern part of the county.  It will have dedicated training space for the Family Medicine Residency program, part of the new GME program.  

With those, “and the growth of the Lakeland Regional Health Physician Group, we now have many more opportunities to expand care to the people in our area,” Drummond said. “We look forward to continuing to grow alongside this wonderful community that we are so fortunate to call home.”  

Tim Boynton, Senior Vice President of Development and Chief PR & Communications Officer, said the hospital will be working with BSA LifeStructures for the design and plan. “Their team in Florida will guide us through the process of creating an advanced healthcare facility for the community.”  

BSA LifeStructures is an architectural and engineering firm headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana. It has a regional office in Tampa.  

“Our team is in the early stages of planning and development, but we anticipate being operational in 2025,” he said.  

LRH continues to consider plans for the 100 acres it owns at U.S. 98 just south of County Road 540A and the 5.6 acres at 5610 South Florida Ave.  

The Hospital’s Current ER

The hospital’s main, state-of-the-art Emergency Department on Lakeland Hills Drive has “132 treatment rooms organized across 11 adult ‘pods’ to create a synergized patient flow,” Boynton said. “In addition, we have the county’s only dedicated Children’s Emergency Department. It has an additional 33 rooms organized into three pods.”  

The ER is the busiest in the state and the second-busiest in the country. It is the only designated Level II Trauma Center for Polk, Highlands and Hardee counties. “We also receive patients from other surrounding counties,” Boynton said. “The percentage capacity fluctuates throughout the day and seasonally, with the heaviest volumes during the winter.”   

Why South Lakeland?

“We are answering the community’s call for more accessible care in South Lakeland,” Boynton said. “As we receive community feedback through surveys, we see that LRH is the preferred provider for the region. Sometimes due to proximity, patients cannot always easily get to our medical center.”    

Polk County continues to sit atop charts as one of the fastest-growing counties in the state and nation. The ratio of patients to primary care providers here was 2,031 to 1 in 2022, Boynton said. “This reflects a deficit compared to the rest of the state. Patients need access to high-quality routine care. We need to provide convenient access to the exceptional emergency care they expect from Lakeland Regional Health.” 

Along with providing more accessible locations, the new ER will alleviate some traffic to the main campus on Lakeland Hills Boulevard. It also will help address the physician shortage in the county. 

While the main Emergency Department at the hospital will continue to receive traumas as the only Level II Trauma Center in the tri-county area, the off-site Emergency Departments will be able to care for many of the same conditions that we see today at the main Emergency Department,” Boynton said. “Patients and their families can expect the same emergency care and expertise at all of our Emergency Department locations.” 

For more than 100 years, LRH has been serving Polk County. It continues to grow with the community, Boynton said. “As the local healthcare provider, we are entirely focused on improving the lives of all those who call our region home. The families in our area have come to know us and trust us over the years, and Lakeland Regional Health remains committed to meeting the local healthcare needs of our community.”   

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