Sarasota Memorial Hospital is poised to purchase a 1.8-acre property located in East County.
The purchase was already preliminarily approved by the mission and planning committee at its Oct. 6 meeting. Pending final approval from the Hospital Board at its Oct. 19 meeting, the land will cost $803,682 to purchase. The parcel of land is located on the southwest corner of State Road 70 and Lorraine Road. It’s currently zoned commercial use, and the code would allow an 18,000 square-foot building.
Kim Savage, spokeswoman for SMH, said there are no detailed plans yet for the property, however it will most likely be a new location for SMH’s subsidiary, First Physicians Group.
“We watch the dynamics of our population and where it’s growing,” said Sarasota Memorial’s CEO, David Verinder. “It’s a growing area. We need to be there before they keep building.”
Several new housing developments are on track for that area, including Del Webb Lakewood Ranch, a retirement community, and Bridgewater East and Lakewood Ranch National, two golfing communities.
SMH already has one First Physicians Group in Manatee County, located on State Road 64 in Heritage Harbour. This location offers services including urgent care, diagnostics and pain care. It opened about seven years ago and has two physicians and two physician’s assistants on staff.
Verinder said there is more than enough business to support both locations east of I-75. About 30% of SMH’s patients come from Manatee County. In the healthcare system’s last fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, more than 97,000 visits from Manatee County residents occurred at an SMH facility, Savage said. Many of those were from Lakewood Ranch, including about 17,000 visits from regular patients who go to a First Physicians Group office. More than 200 of SMH’s staff members live in East County, too.
“We have a tremendous amount there right now and it’s going to keep growing,” Verinder said.
The services in ER are the most expensive for both patients and for the hospital to provide. Opening additional primary and urgent care facilities helps the hospital reduce costs expended when patients use the ER.
As the Manatee County locations are outside of Sarasota Memorial’s taxing district, the system does not generate property tax revenue from Manatee County. The system levies 1.05 mils from Sarasota County, which makes up about 6% of the hospital’s revenues.
Verinder said no tax-generated funds would be used to build or operate the new facility — capital project funding comes from the hospital’s general revenues, which comes in through investments, operations and patient care.
The contract closing date to purchase the property is set for January 2016. Site planning and construction will begin after; per the contract, SMH has 30 months to begin construction after the closing date.
SMH is a nonprofit healthcare system operating on a $563.9 million budget. It has 24 physician practices in the First Physicians Group network and 10 outpatient centers spread from East County to North Port.