People living in Estero will be getting a major new health facility later this year, which community leaders hope will meet the demands of the fast-growing area. Residents have been demanding a hospital there for over a decade.
"We need those (hospital) beds," said Don Eslick of the Estero Council of Community Leaders. "There's no question about it."
Lee Health applied to the State of Florida for the right to build a hospital in Estero several years ago, but the request was denied.
"The strategy since that point has been, 'all right, let's try to satisfy all the other needs, and prove to the state through this facility that a hospital is deserved and needed," Eslick said.
The new $140 million facility is under construction on property just south of Coconut Point Mall at U.S. 41 and Coconut Road. It will feature an emergency room, as well as specialty departments such as oncology, cardiology and pediatrics.
"It also has what's called a 'clinical decision unit,'" said Lee Health spokesperson Mary Briggs. "So you'll be able to stay for up to 24 hours for observation."
"Between that and the other services, it will be able to take care of 90 to 95% of any medical needs that the community needs," she added.
But it will still be about ten miles to the nearest hospital. Briggs said that in the event the state does decide that Estero could use its own hospital, the new building is being built to be flexible.
"So should that change, we would be able to build an 80-bed hospital on the same land," she said.
She said that change could come if the state decides to approve a hospital in Estero, or if legislators eliminate the requirement for hospitals to get the state's blessing before proceeding with construction.
The new Lee Health facility near Coconut Point should be open in November.