Mercy Hospital plans to rebuild with funds from property sale
By Risa Polansky
Mercy Hospital will replace its 50-year-old facilities using funds from the sale of its 6.7-acre parking lot regardless of what ends up built on the land, Mercy President John Matuska says.
"Over the next 15 years, I'm going to have to spend close to $300 million to replace these facilities," he said. "That's why the land development is so important — it gives us about one-third of the capital we need to do that."
The closing of Mercy's $96 million sale of the lot to Ocean Land, pending since 2004, depends on the Miami City Commission's Dec. 14 ruling on whether to rezone the bayfront property in Coconut Grove to allow Ocean Land and The Related Group to build a three-tower condominium complex, a request denied by Miami's zoning board and planning advisory board in September.
The hospital supports Related's condo proposal. But should rezoning be denied by the commission, Ocean Land still would buy the property and most likely develop an assisted-living facility there, said Mercy publicist Israel Kreps.
Either way, the hospital, built in 1950, will be rebuilt, Mr. Matuska said.
A lack of funds has prohibited improvements, he said, and an additional $2 million it will take to complete the overhaul will "have to come from fundraising, through improving our operating margin and through borrowing."
He said a capital campaign is underway.
"We plan to use the money to replace buildings, stay up to date with technology, recruit the best nurses and physicians and enhance clinical programs," he said.
Renovations to buildings as old as Mercy's would be less cost effective, more time consuming and most likely still not up to technological standards, Mr. Matuska said, so he plans to replace the facilities one at a time.
The hospital is working with a national consulting firm to plan but currently has no concrete strategy, he said.
"All of the facilities that are old are occupied by something. Every one has patient care units," Mr. Matuska said. "First we need to figure out where to put these units, where to move the people. Then we decide which wing to replace first."
Officials will upgrade electrical systems in existing buildings, as it will be four years before a new patient-care center is built, he said.
Mercy has begun expansion of its emergency room, which will have four times as many beds as the current facility as well as a state-of-the-art critical-care system. Three years ago, it opened its Bayside Pavilion complex, which provides state-of-the-art preventative health services and non-invasive surgeries in a luxury setting.
Mr. Matuska said he also plans to use funds generated from the development to expand the hospital's clinical programs. "We're trying to do a lot of sub-specialization," he said. "You don't have a lot of sub-specialists down here."
He hopes to create large teams of doctors, each with its own area of expertise. He also hopes to expand upon Mercy's existing minimally invasive surgery programs.
"My vision is to make Mercy one of the best hospitals in the country. To do that, you have to have a modern facility, state-of-the-art equipment, a top-quality nursing staff and an outstanding medical staff," Mr. Matuska said. "That requires resources."