By Don Coble
FLEMING ISLAND – The guttural sounds of heavy equipment bulldozers and dump trucks have become a welcomed consequence of rapid growth for Baptist Clay Medical Campus President Darin Roark.
The fast-moving construction will result in a new 100-bed hospital and the creation of Baptist HealthPlace at Fleming Island that’s designed to enhance the quality of healthcare – and life – in the area.
Baptist Health last week completed its purchase of the VyStar Credit Union’s North Florida call and operations center at 2310 Village Square Parkway. The hospital group will quickly move forward to convert the 85,000-square-foot building into one of its new healthy living centers.
“The concept around that is that we incorporate the process that we use at our various locations,” Roark said. “The latest one we’ve opened is at Nocatee. They are staffed by a healthy living coordinator and they help folks to navigate our complicated healthcare industry. It also provides health education and opportunities to just make sure that they go through their resources to help patients determine what they have and how to go about using them.
“Different physicians will have educational sessions in the healthy living center. We do a lot of that stuff now, obviously, virtually, but when we get to a point where we can have folks in a room together again, we would love to continue that. Those have been very popular at our other campuses where we offer them.”
The services will be offered for free. It will include personalized health coaching. There are classes and programs to help with exercise and fitness goals. A health coach also can help patients learn how to use certain fitness apps.
And, it’s open to everyone, including those who aren’t Baptist Health patients.
Baptist HealthPlace at Nocatee opened last November. The health hub is designed around the fitness, wellness, medical and therapeutic needs of those living and working in the growing community and surrounding areas.
“Baptist HealthPlace at Nocatee was created with the input of people living in this community, and what services they told us would be of value,” Baptist Health President and CEO Brett McClung told our sister newspaper, The Ponte Vedra Recorder. “Our on-site wellness coach in the Baptist Center for healthy living will offer a concierge approach to assisting people with their health-related questions, directing them to the right resources and linking together services to help save time.”
Fleming Island’s facility is located about 200 yards west from the current construction of a planned six-story hospital being built at the Baptist Health Medical Campus. The two facilities eventually will be joined by jogging paths and a bridge. Baptist Health recently bought the 33-acre plot between the Clay Campus and the old VyStar building, creating a massive complex that will address emergency, children’s and preventative healthcare issues.
“Truly, our goal is to help support healthy living. We don’t want you to have to come to the hospital, to be honest with you,” Roark said. “We want to do everything we can to give you the tools you need to live a healthy lifestyle. That’s a big piece of what we do.”
HealthPlace at Fleming Island will be operational by the fall, Roark said. The hospital is scheduled to be opened in mid-2022.
“They’re moving fast,” Roark said. “They’re bringing in a lot of fill dirt to finish the building pad where the six-story building will sit. Foundation work is expected to start in the next couple weeks. The fill dirt process is supposed to be completed by Friday [Jan. 15]. We’ll have steel by the end of April.
“I can’t wait to provide additional healthcare services to the residents of Clay County. At this present time, the other two hospitals in [Jacksonville area] are packed. They’re really, really busy. There’s an increase need for healthcare across the board in our county, across Northeast Florida. We hope to get things up and running and continue to serve the folks that live here in the best way we know how.”
Baptist Health’s investment in the Clay County project is $206.5 million, Roark said. The purchase of the VyStar building was included in the original budget.
Once Baptist HealthPlace at Fleming Island is opened, Baptist Primary Care, which is located across the street from the Campus in the Village Square Shopping Center.
“Primary Care is planning to move into the building as we continue to expand the primary care options,” Roark said. “We added a third provider to one office [last week]. We’ll add a third provider to the office across the street [Baptist Primary Care], so they’re running out of space. Everyone is outgrowing where they are now.”
The sounds of heavy construction, however, is a constant reminder that solutions are coming soon.