October 3, 2017:    Adventist Health System bought a 103-acre tract of land in Polk Country, Florida this summer. According to a report by the Tampa Bay Times, the system plans to use the $14.5 million tract to connect hospital systems in Tampa Bay and Orlando.

The land sits along Interstate 4, slightly west of Florida Polytechnic University. AHS plans to add to its network of Florida Hospital facilities by building a freestanding Emergency Room and a potential 200-bed hospital if there is sufficient community demand over the next decade.

“There is a tremendous amount of new growth happening in the Lakeland and Auburndale area, and our goal is to provide greater health care 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,” said president and CEO of Florida Hospital’s West Florida division, Mike Schultz. “We are interested in developing new health care facilities to serve the population growth in the area while being complementary to the care that is being delivered through the Lakeland Regional Health System.”

Lauren Key, senior executive officer of consumer strategy in the West Florida division of Florida Hospital, said that the land purchase helps to connect Florida Hospital Facilities.

“There is a gap in coverage in this area,” said Key. “What we know today is that people who live in (Polk County) already go to our hospitals in Tampa and Orlando for care. This is a way to better connect our existing hospitals and serve the people who live in this area when they need it most.”

There are no immediate plans to build on the land. The purchase is part of a long term vision for Florida Hospital.

Key said that Florida Hospital does see a need for an emergency room and a potential outpatient surgery facility in the region soon. A second round of construction could involve the 200-bed hospital and 200,000 square feet of office space. The project in its entirety could bring more than 1,000 new medical jobs to Polk County.

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