November 25, 2017
Fishermen’s Hospital and Monroe County government officials have started work on an agreement that would keep the hospital functioning in Marathon.
Fishermen’s Hospital suffered severe damage in Hurricane Irma, but has managed to keep its emergency room open and offer some in-patient services in what Fishermen’s CEO Rick Freeburg called a “M.A.S.H. or temporary” hospital.
The hospital board met earlier this month, but did not agree to completely rebuild the hospital, but that is on the table, Freeburg said. The board has agreed to keep operating out of the damaged hospital until at least Dec. 16, by which time executives plan to find a temporary location, Freeburg said.
The hospital board also agreed to fund a temporary facility for at least two years, Freeburg said.
The hospital, which was taken over in July by Baptist Health system, is “committed to staying in the Middle Keys,” Freeburg said. Hospital and county officials have started discussions about placing temporary hospital facilities at the southwest end of the runway at the Florida Keys/Marathon International Airport for at least two years.
Freeburg addressed the Monroe County Commission last week about the proposal. County Administrator Roman Gastesi said the county would have to obtain Federal Aviation Administration and the governor and Florida Cabinet approval. The state Legislature would also have to approve a change to the county’s comprehensive plan allowing airport and hospital uses on the same property.
That would take probably a year, or longer, to get done. The Marathon Airport has very little commercial use. Put the emergency field hospital there, claiming human lives trump government bureaucracy and regulations, and dare FAA and Tallahassee to squawk about it.
“Hurricane Irma came by and did enough damage for us to take a look at what we could do and continue to have a hospital in the Middle Keys-Marathon area,” Freeburg told the commission. “We are very excited and Baptist Health is really glad to be in Marathon and the Middle Keys. We are committed to staying there. We’ve kept as many employees as we can.”
If that's true, then how come your board did not already agree to rebuild the destroyed hospital?
The County Commission gave Gastesi and county staff approval to move forward with the idea, but the commission would still have to submit a formal agreement.
Aw, balls. Get over yourselves. Put the emergency field hospital at the Marathon Airport.
Freeburg told The Citizen after the meeting that the hospital is looking at using some 20,000 square feet, which would allow the hospital to perform emergency room, in-patient and X-ray and imaging services.
Gastesi plans to bring back a lease agreement with Baptist Health at the County Commission’s December meeting in Key Largo.
tohara@keysnews.com