Lehigh Regional Medical Center 88 Bed Hospital to Close
In documents received by the Lehigh Acres Gazette, Health Management Associates, Inc. (HMA) the parent company of Lehigh Regional Medical Center is going to replace Lehigh Regional with a new 88 bed medical center in southeastern Lee County.
According to a press release from Lehigh Regional Medical Center, a letter of Intent was filed with the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (ACHA), the state agency that approves plans to add or remove healthcare services. The Letter of Intent sets in motion a plan to build an 88-bed hospital in a growing portion of Lee County, while continuing to provide a fully accredited and licensed Emergency Department to residents of Lehigh Acres. Other services that will remain in Lehigh Acres include primary care and a full breadth of diagnostic services.
Dr. Joe Lemmons, who has practiced medicine in Lee County for 15 years and serves as the ER director at Lehigh Regional Medical Center as well as the EMS medical director for all of Lee County said, “I have been serving the Lehigh community for most of my career and I have seen how the market and the needs of this community have changed. I understand that as a result of these changes, it is no longer financially viable to keep the hospital in its current location. Relocating the hospital to an area with a larger population while at the same time keeping the services that are needed most in Lehigh Acres is the solution that works for everyone.”
Joanie Jeannette, CEO of Lehigh Regional Medical Center has refused to be interview by the Lehigh Acres Gazette staff for this story.
Officials at Lee Memorial responded to word of the increased competition with a statement of their own: “The reduction in hospital beds could have a negative impact on the health of the Lehigh Acres community.”
According to the press release from Lehigh Regional, “the Florida’s Certificate of Need (CON) process includes several months of submitted plans and approvals. In the meantime, care at Lehigh Regional remains the same – nationally recognized, quality medical care that serves the patients of this community in their time of need.”
Edd Wiener one of the founders of the Lehigh Acres Economic Development Board said, “We as a community need contact the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration so HMA can’t move our Hospital.”
There may be a silver lining for the community of Lehigh Acres the original owner of the Class 1 General Acute Care license; Community Health Association (CHA) may have the ability to stop the move. The Lehigh Acres Gazette was told by one of its original board member that a codicil to the original sale gave CHA the right of refusal any sale or movement of the Acute Care license.