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Published on May 28, 2015

St. Vincent's Clay County to Double in Size

By Mike Ford, Clay Today

MIDDLEBURG – While recognizing the impact local healthcare has on Clay County’s economic development, St. Vincent’s Medical Center broke ground for a three floor patient tower that will double the size of the hospital a year from now. While this impacts local healthcare, the ripple effect will reach far beyond that of a doctor’s stethoscope.

"We’re only beginning to tap into what we bring to this county because we’re not just a healthcare provider – we’re an economic engine," St. Vincent’s Clay President Blain Claypool told about 150 people gathered for the May 22 groundbreaking ceremony.

With funding from private donations and the parent entity, Ascension Health, the $33.1 million expansion is expected to bring 100 new clinical and non-clinical jobs to the county. Claypool said the positions will pay enough to draw new residents to Clay County.

"These are high-paying jobs – they average $50,000 a year – and we’re seeing new businesses pop up around us as the First Coast Expressway goes in immediately adjacent to our campus. There will be 10,000 new homes built along the beltway in the next 10 years and those families will have healthcare right in their back yard," Claypool said.

As a county resident who is raising his children here and educating them in the county school district, Claypool stresses that the ministry of St. Vincent’s is a stakeholder in the county’s economic development. He said the hospital is also working on a plan to build a medical office building that will attract more doctors in private practice to the county.

"It will add 15 to 20 physician practices to the community, so we’re drawing businesses. It makes us a selling point for the county in the effort to recruit new businesses to our community," Claypool said.

With that expansion next on the horizon, the new tower will expand the hospital’s emergency department and give it something it has never had before – birthing services.

The expansion will include a birthing center to be named the J. Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver Women and Infants Pavilion that will be located inside the tower. It will feature eight suites for labor, delivery, recovery and post-partum treatment, two Cesarean section suites and four postpartum suites. There will also be childbirth education, sibling classes and safe sitter training to teach preteens and teenagers how to safely care for infants and other children.

The rest of the expansion will include 30 inpatient beds, 13 treatment rooms in the emergency department and have capacity for 30 additional beds in the future. Officials plan to have the new construction completed by late summer of 2016.

The original hospital, which opened in the fall of 2013, cost $85 million and takes up 147,500 square feet on 35-acres alongside Branan Field Road.

The Rev. Andy Blaszkowski of St. Luke Catholic Church north of Middleburg blesses the soil with holy water during a May 22 groundbreaking at St. Vincent’s Medical Center Clay County.

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