August 16, 2022


Fitting In

Nemours faces some challenges as it aims to open a children's hospital in Orlando.

Diane Sears | 9/1/2005
Nemours Foundation plans to open a free-standing non-profit children's hospital in Orlando by 2010, but first it must find a place in the community.

The physical site isn't the issue -- plans call for building it across I-4 from the Mall at Millenia -- but in a city with two thriving hospital systems, Nemours must try to carve out a niche. It is seeking to partner with Orlando Regional Healthcare, which operates Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children & Women, and with the Florida Hospital system and its Florida Children's Hospital.

The foundation has operated a clinic in Orlando since 1997 that works closely with Arnold Palmer hospital. But Nemours handles only specialized care for children from birth to age 18. It doesn't handle primary care or childbirth. Its 16 subspecialties include pediatric surgery, endocrinology, gastroenterology, pulmonology, urology and genetics. The new hospital would add specialties -- as well as a projected 1,500 jobs and $350 million to $400 million a year to the local economy.

CHILD CARE: "We intend to have high-level specialty services," says Nemours COO Dr. David Bailey.Orlando is the largest metropolitan area in Florida that doesn't have a free-standing children's hospital, says Dr. David Bailey, chief operating officer and executive vice president of patient operations for Jacksonville-based Nemours, citing Miami Children's Hospital and Tampa Bay's All Children's Hospital.

"It's our intent that this hospital will be on par with the top-tier children's hospitals in the nation," Bailey says. "We see the future including remote monitoring, telemedicine, robotic surgery and other high-level diagnostics that will likely draw folks from outside the region."

Because it's backed by a trust of nearly $4 billion, and most of its operating capital comes from investments and revenue from patients, Nemours can afford to provide healthcare to any child regardless of the family's ability to pay. About 45% of its patients are underinsured or uninsured.

Central Florida officials are excited about Nemours' plans -- especially since the foundation is not asking for any economic incentives. The question is whether the area's hospitals can work together instead of competing.

Ray Gilley, CEO of the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission and an Orlando Regional Healthcare board member, is cautious about discussing how the existing hospital systems might work with Nemours.

"As long as it's coordinated with our existing facilities, it has the potential to have a great positive impact on our region and on the state," Gilley says.

Tags: Central, Healthcare

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