Lee Health has invested more than $500 million in expansion and renovation projects in recent years.
FORT MYERS — One of the fastest-growing areas in Florida — Fort Myers — is on the cusp of getting a surefire sign of a population surge: a new hospital, what could potentially be a five-year project.
The board overseeing Lee Health, one of the largest nonprofit health care organizations in Florida, recently decided to move forward with a new hospital campus in Fort Myers. It’s on a 52-acre site along Challenger Boulevard, between Colonial Boulevard and Winkler Avenue. The project, tentatively known as the Lee Health Colonial Campus, according to a statement, will include an acute care hospital with 216 beds; 16 operating rooms; an emergency department with 30 emergency room bays; and a 16-bed observation unit.
The board, the release states, approved proceeding with issuing a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for architectural services, construction management and commissioning authorities as a first step in developing the hospital campus. In addition to the medical side, the campus will also house a complement of ancillary and social services and will include a medical office building, say Lee Health officials. Lee Health’s data center will move to the new campus as well.
“Lee Health is planning a medical destination aimed at innovating health care in Southwest Florida,” says Lee Health President and CEO Dr. Larry Antonucci in the statement. “Our area is one of the fastest-growing regions in the country, and this new hospital campus will ensure that everyone has the access to the quality health care they deserve.
“Lee Health is committed to growing with our community and staying current with trends in the delivery of health care to provide the best possible care for our patients,” he adds. “We look forward to working with community leaders as this project moves forward to ensure we are meeting all of the needs of our patients and our community.”
As Lee Health develops the new location and evaluates its services and the needs of the community, Lee Memorial Hospital will continue to offer clinical services, including an emergency department, inpatient beds and surgical services, the release states. The permitting process for the new campus is expected to take about two years. After that portion of the project is complete, the build timeline is estimated to take an additional three years, the release states. The anticipated opening date of the campus is 2027.
Lee Health officials say they will work with Fort Myers city officials on the project, and, according to the statement, “will undertake a visioning process to determine the best use of the Lee Memorial property to meet the needs of the community into the future.”
“The City of Fort Myers is excited to welcome a new, state-of-the-art, health care destination within our city limits. Lee Health has served our city for more than 100 years, and this project exemplifies their commitment to our community by expanding access to high-quality health care,” Fort Myers Mayor Kevin Anderson says in the release. “I want to thank Lee Health for engaging community leaders to ensure that all of the health care needs of our community are met with this project, and I look forward to working together on the Lee Health Colonial Campus and the future of health care in the downtown area.”
The project follows several other significant investments Lee Health has made in the past three to five years. The list includes a $315 million expansion project that will culminate in the transfer of the Regional Trauma Center from Lee Memorial to Gulf Coast Medical Center; $150 million in expansion plans in the City of Cape Coral; Lee Health Coconut Point, a full-service medical destination that opened in 2018 in Estero; and opening the region’s only children’s hospital – Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida — in 2017, a $250 million project.