Published on May 14, 2014

St. Vincent's Clay County hospital looking to expand, build maternity ward

Reporter- Jacksonville Business Journal

St. Vincent's Clay County hospital is waiting on approval from its parent company for a $24 million capital expansion project. Approval is expected within the next couple of weeks, hospital administrators said today.

The expansion would come after demand at the hospital has exceeded administrators' estimates in the nine months it has been open.

If given the green light, St. Vincent’s Medical Center of Clay County would increase its 64 in-patient beds by another 32 to 36 beds, expand its emergency room and build a three-story patient tower that would house a new maternity ward.

The second phase of the project would add 32 to 36 beds, build two more floors in the patient tower and double the number of operating rooms from six to 12. When completed, St. Vincent's would add 180 staff members to the 363 it already employs at its Middleburg campus.

“We had planned to do this over the next two to five years,” said Blain Claypool, president of St. Vincent's Clay County. “Instead, I went ahead and applied [to Ascension’s board of directors] in December [2013] to get in under the end-of-the-year cutoff.”

Ascension Health, the nonprofit company that operates St. Vincent's and a network of other hospitals, makes decisions on capital projects at the end of each calendar year.

Since the full-service hospital opened in Clay County last September, demand has exceeded even administrators’ own estimates — especially of the number of beds it needs.

“At certain times of the day, we can be completely filled,” Claypool said.

On Wednesday, Claypool told the Business Journal he was awaiting word from Ascension, which would cover a portion of the expansion, with St. Vincent’s Clay County kicking in the rest. After contracts are awarded, construction could begin shortly, and the new areas of the hospital potentially operational by the facility’s second anniversary in fall 2015.

“We would effectively be doubling within two years,” Claypool said