Health care companies such as Cleveland Clinic, Baptist Health and Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital are expanding their presence in Palm Beach County by offering more services and locations for patients.
Big moves are being made by health care companies seeking a greater piece of the medical pie in Palm Beach County.
They’re buying land for more clinics throughout the county, adding doctors and specialties services, and even considering building more hospitals.
Thanks to a growing population, these hospital companies want to be visible — and everywhere.
Cleveland Clinic, the high-profile hospital company with the renowned reputation, has been looking into building a standalone facility in downtown West Palm Beach.
Cleveland Clinic has a longtime presence at the CityPlace Tower office building at 525 Okeechobee Blvd. But if Cleveland Clinic had its own building, it could have more space, provide more services and be a more prominent provider downtown, which is just across the bridges to Palm Beach.
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Another growing hospital company is Baptist Health South Florida, which owns Bethesda East and West hospitals in Boynton Beach and recently bought Boca Raton Regional Hospital.
Baptist now wants a presence in north Palm Beach County and is eyeing land in Jupiter. One site under consideration is a parcel at the northeast corner of Indiantown Road and Interstate 95, according to real estate sources.
Meanwhile, Hollywood-based Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, which opened a 30,000-square-foot clinic in Wellington last February, already has beefed up staff and services.
This includes adding specialists in areas such as cardiac care and neurosurgery for patients needing more complex care than they had anticipated. Also, there is great demand for rehabilitation services.
“Demand for our outpatient rehab services is way beyond what we expected,” said Caitlin Stella, Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital chief executive.
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The moves come as the population continues to grow in Palm Beach County, and hospitals scramble to set up shop or expand services at places convenient for patients.
It’s a trend some have dubbed the “retailization” of medical care, bringing health care services to patients instead of making patients drive long distances for care.
Major hospital companies are attracted to Palm Beach County because many of its patients are wealthy, have good health insurance and are philanthropic.
In addition, the population growth in western Palm Beach County, spurred by construction of new homes in cities such as Westlake, is creating greater demand for health care services.
Cleveland Clinic, a Ohio-based company with its Florida headquarters in Weston, was the first out-of-area health care company to establish a big presence in Palm Beach County. Years ago, it created a 30,000-square-foot clinic at CityPlace Tower office building. (Last year, it opened medical offices in Wellington, too.)
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But real estate sources say only four years remain on the CityPlace Tower lease, prompting Cleveland Clinic to explore other options. Ideally, Cleveland Clinic would like to build a standalone facility of at least 50,000 square feet, which would allow it to consolidated services, such as physical therapy offered at a Palm Beach Gardens center, into one location.
A standalone site also would make it easier for patients so they do not have to park in a garage or valet their cars, then navigate through an office building, as is the case at CityPlace Tower, real estate experts said.
Rick Greene, West Palm Beach assistant city administrator, confirmed that Cleveland Clinic had inquired about city-owned land on Okeechobee Boulevard, just east of Interstate 95.
The high-profile site is easily accessible to Cleveland Clinic’s wealthy residents living across the bridges on Palm Beach. Also, it’s right off the highway. But the land is not available due to technical development issues, Greene said.
A Cleveland Clinic spokeswoman did not respond to inquiries about the West Palm Beach clinic.
Still unknown is the future of a 35-acre site that Cleveland Clinic purchased on Lake Worth Road, just west of Florida’s Turnpike.
The property is at the corner of Lake Worth Road and Lyons Road. Last year, Cleveland Clinic obtained county zoning approval for medical space on the site.
One day, it also could seek to build a hospital there, something that patients say they want in Palm Beach County, according to Cleveland Clinic leaders. But so far, no construction efforts have begun on the property.
Meanwhile, in Jupiter, it’s not clear what Baptist would do with the Indiantown Road property if it buys it. Observers say the Coral Gables-based hospital company might seek to build medical offices, specialty services or maybe even a small hospital, called a micro-hospital.
Baptist was mum on its plans but didn’t deny the interest: “Northern Palm Beach County is a dynamic community,” a hospital spokeswoman said. “We do not yet have anything set, but continue to look at opportunities to serve the area.”
One move Baptist already is making is expanding its presence in western Palm Beach County, thanks to the area’s growing population. Baptist wants to increase to 236 from 80 the number of beds it has at Bethesda West Hospital, off of Boynton Beach Boulevard near State Road 7.
A hospital company new to western Palm Beach County, Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, already has expanded its services in Wellington.
It also could grow even more in the future by adding a center in North Palm Beach County.
Joe DiMaggio’s Health Specialty Center in Wellington is busier than expected with patients needing treatment in a range of specialties, said Stella, the hospital’s chief executive. The center is at 3377 State Road 7, between Lake Worth Road and Forest Hill Boulevard.
The center’s low-dose radiation machines for pediatric patients is in great demand, Stella said. So is Joe DiMaggio’s sports medicine program, as well as therapy services it provides to children with developmental issues.
The center has 22 doctors who either work in Wellington full-time or rotate there. It also has another 45 employees, up from about 30 when the facility opened in March.
The center now offers a broad range of specialties, including endocrinology, neurology, pulmonology, general surgery, otolaryngology, orthopedics, neurosurgery, cardiac, craniofacial, allergy, audiology, plus imaging services and physical, occupational and speech therapy.
What’s surprising to Stella is the demand for cardiac care, neurosurgery, craniofacial surgery and even genetics care. These specialties are not what Joe DiMaggio heard was needed from pediatricians when they were planning the Wellington facility, but they are what patients say they need.
“We are bringing the more complex programs faster than anticipated,” Stella said.
Some patients who were born premature and have chronic health conditions are a surprisingly large population, indicating there was an unmet need in Palm Beach County, Stella said.
The other surprise is that patients are driving to the hospital’s Wellington offices from the Treasure Coast and even Orlando.
“Kids are coming to us from much further away than we expected, with very complex diagnoses,” Stella said.
Although Joe DiMaggio is focused for now on growing its Wellington practice, Stella said adding a clinic in North Palm Beach County to serve all the patients coming from the north “would not be off the table in the future.”