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Orlando Health Serving Fast-Growing South Lakeland

January 5, 2022 News

Orlando Health is expanding into Polk County, planning a hospital and surrounding campus in the fast-growing south Lakeland community.

“As we’ve grown, Orlando Health has really looked at creating more access points, especially along the Interstate 4 corridor,” said John Moore, senior vice president of Orlando Health West Region and president of Bayfront Health St. Petersburg. “Expansion into this area creates a convenient access point for residents of this rapidly growing community of south Lakeland, where there is a need for additional health care services.”

Orlando Health Lakeland Highlands Hospital will be built on 80 acres south of the Polk Parkway at Lakeland Highlands Road and the Winter Lake Extension Road. Pre-construction work is underway, and construction will begin in 2022 with an expected opening in 2024, he said. 

The first phase of the multi-story hospital will contain 136 inpatient beds and 24 Emergency Department beds. Future phases could have it expanding to 360 beds.

“Full build-out will depend on a variety of factors,” Moore said. “When we open, we will have enough capacity in phase one to address immediate needs that will serve us for the first four to five years of operation. Going forward, expansion will be based on analytics and will occur in phases of approximately 90- to 120-bed increments.”

 A surrounding campus could include:

  • A 20,000-square-foot ambulatory surgical center.
  • 240,000 square feet of medical office space.
  • 20,000 square feet of retail space.
  • A 150-room hotel.

The hospital system is planning the hotel to meet the needs of patients and their families, Moore said.

“Hotel accommodations play an important role when providing health care,” he said. “They are an extremely important factor when discussing out-patient procedures, especially for those driving in who have a procedure on day one and a follow-up appointment with a surgeon the next day. We have successfully partnered with hotel developers on our downtown Orlando campus as a way to provide patients and their loved ones with much-needed amenities, including overnight accommodations.”

Orlando Health

Founded more than 100 years ago, Orlando Health is a not-for-profit health care organization with $7.6 billion of assets. Headquartered in Orlando, it serves the southeastern United States and includes such hospitals as Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, Orlando Health Orlando Regional Medical Center and Bayfront Health St. Petersburg. According to its website, Orlando Health served nearly 160,000 inpatients and nearly 3.6 million outpatients in the fiscal year 2021. 

Orlando Health will be building in an area served by Lakeland Regional Hospital and Bartow Memorial Medical Center. It is using market data to provide services in the areas where medical care is needed most. 

“Our strategic planning team conducts extensive research and reviews areas where there are deficits or gaps that can be filled by Orlando Health,” Moore said. “For example, Lakeland Regional Hospital has the highest volume emergency department in the area, which is a challenge for anyone facility to manage.”

The Veterans Administration is also building in the area, along Lakeland Highlands Road. It will open a new $112 million veterans clinic in 2024 to serve the county’s nearly 65,000 veterans. Although talking about partnering with the VA is premature, Moore said, it’s conceivable.

“It’s well known that Orlando Health has a track record of partnering with like-minded people and organizations.” 

With a reputation for treating its employees well, Orlando Health isn’t worried about finding enough doctors and nurses to work at the hospital.

“Orlando Health has been repeatedly recognized as one of the best places to work by multiple prestigious organizations, including Forbes and Fortune,” Moore said. “Part of that is due to the culture we have created and which we continue to develop every day to ensure that our team members feel respected, supported and valued.”

Orlando Health officials have been meeting with the city of Lakeland officials and community leaders for several months, Moore said. “We have received a wonderful welcome.”

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