JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A new hospital is set to open on the Northside, near Jacksonville International Airport. Following a lengthy legal dispute, UF Health announced it got the green light to move forward with plans Wednesday. The new facility is scheduled to open in 2017 on Max Leggett Parkway, just east of Interstate 95. A medical office complex is already under construction and will open its doors March 1 of 2015.
"They need it," said Shameka Hillsman. "They really need it in this area."
Born and raised on the Northside of Jacksonville, Hillsman has high hopes for the new inpatient hospital. It's designed to help relieve the congestion at UF Health's 8th street location.
"Unfortunately it's not unusual for us to have ten or twenty patients in our emergency room waiting for a bed," said UF Health Jacksonville CEO, Russ Armistead.
He says the new hospital aims to help with their patient load and believes the location is ideal.
"That's an area we believe is under-served," said Armistead.
"You won't have to drive as far to get medical attention," said Hillsman. "It's right here in your community and in your area."
But getting the go-ahead to build a state-of-the-art medical facility didn't come easily. Just this month Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration granted a certificate needed for the new hospital to go into business. Memorial Hospital Jacksonville challenged the certificate. But after a settlement, talks Memorial later agreed to drop their letter of opposition.
"It's almost unbelievable," said Armistead. "We've dealt with this issue for three years."
UF Health North's 92 bed hospital will provided a variety of services including an emergency room and a birthing center.
"I feel like it's good in this area because it's also growing and it's expanding," said Hillsman.
The cost of the medical office building which will be open early next year will cost about $130-$140 million overall.
20,000 to 25,000 patients are expected the first year at the Northside emergency department. The facility will have the capacity to serve about 50,000 patients per year. At the 8th street location they're seeing an average of 95,000 patients per year in the emergency department.