Have we got a deal for you. How does $10 a year to lease just more than six acres sound?
The city of Gulf Shores and South Baldwin Regional Medical Center, along with parent company Community Health Services, recently agreed to those terms for land the health company will use to build a freestanding emergency department (FED) in the city.
Economic Development Coordinator Blake Phelps said it’s also a great deal for Gulf Shores and one the city is happy to offer. The term is for 30 years.
“It’s not about necessarily leasing land at a market rate,” Phelps said. “It’s more important to us to help make these projects happen and expedite these projects as much as we can so our community can benefit from them. Our goal is to enhance the quality of healthcare, provide the jobs and the return investment for the city is doing exactly that.”
A goal of the city’s Vision 2025 plan is to enhance healthcare for residents and Phelps said this is a big step in that direction. Gulf Shores recently entered a $160,000 contract with AirMed that covers ambulance or air ambulance service for free to any Gulf Shores resident needing transport anywhere in the county. Phelps says the emergency room is another step up for the city in healthcare.
“Direct access for residents and visitors throughout our area to emergency care,” Phelps said. “Today the only option is to go to the north side of Foley to the hospital. It’s difficult at best during the busy time of year. If you’re located down Fort Morgan or on Ono Island or even within the heart of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, that can be a 30-, 45-minute or even longer trip to try to get up to the hospital. In an emergency situation minutes mean lives.”
It will be a 13,000-square-foot facility with eight exam rooms, a helipad, triage area, imaging services, lab services, pharmacy and support areas.
“The FED is literally the exact type of facility that is typically housed within a hospital,” Phelps said. “They provide the same level of care, the same services that an emergency department at any hospital would provide. It just happens to be physically detached from a hospital but it is a fully functioning facility. It can provide high-quality emergency care and will have all of the facilities and medications and capabilities within that facility to handle emergency situations.”
Total cost for the project will top $15 million with about $10 million for construction, $4 million for major medical equipment and $1 million for other equipment.
“With it, there’s going to be 40 to 50 full-time jobs that are professional jobs, high-paying, quality jobs that will be provided in our community for people in our community to take advantage of,” Phelps said. “That’s another piece of this puzzle that really at first glance probably gets lost.”
Phelps said the certificate of need from the state should be issued before Jan. 1 with hopes of starting construction in the fall of 2020. The building should be completed in about a year so plans are for opening in the fall of 2021.
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