Florida Hospital has disclosed it plans to build a free-standing emergency room on 104 acres it recently purchased for $14.5 million just west of Florida Polytechnic University.

The emergency room will be similar to a 18,500-square-foot, 24-bed facility that Florida Hospital recently opened in Palm Harbor, spokeswoman Richelle Hoenes-Ahern told WUSF News.

Hospital officials in July discussed their intention to buy the tract with Lakeland city commissioners, who at the time characterized the initial structure as a clinic.

Florida Hospital says will be at least 10 years before they build a hospital on the property, and they acknowledged that they’ll be required to get a certificate of need from the state.

“We want to be complementary to health care that is already there serving the community,” Hoenes-Ahern said.

Florida Hospital, part of Adventist Health System, says its data shows patients from Polk County are traveling to Tampa and Orlando to use their facilities.

“What better way to serve them than to put something closer to those Polk County residents so they are not having to travel to Tampa and to Orlando for their care with Florida Hospital physicians?” Hoenes-Ahern told WUSF.

No permits have filed, and the timeline to build the emergency room depends on residential growth in the area, she said.

Growth in Polk prompted the purchase of the land near Florida Poly, according to Florida Hospital President and CEO Mike Schultz.

“There is a tremendous amount of new growth happening in the Lakeland and Auburndale area, and our goal is to provide greater healthcare access and convenience to the people living along the I-4 corridor, while better connecting the existing Florida Hospital network of care between the Tampa and Orlando markets,” Schultz said.

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Barry Friedman founded Lkldnow.com in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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