Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fast-Growing Baptist South 'Tops Off' Its New Tower B

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fast-Growing Baptist South 'Tops Off' Its New Tower B

Article excerpt

Byline: DAN SCANLAN

All eyes looked skyward as the white steel I-beam was hoisted high, blue sky and fluffy clouds framing it until the bulk of the eight-story building under construction obscured it.

The beam, a tree affixed to it, celebrated the fact that Baptist Medical Center South's new Tower B had reached its highest point, even though it is still more than a year from completion at Interstate 95 and Old St. Augustine Road.

Hospital officials remarked moments before the topping-out ceremony Monday that some wondered if a hospital for Mandarin and Northwest St. Johns County could thrive when it was first proposed six years ago. Now the 3-year-old first phase is "full and overflowing many times," prompting this second phase quicker than planned because of growth in the area, said A. Hugh Greene, Baptist Health CEO and president.

"Let me take you back to when I first drove down what was then a two-lane Old St. Augustine Road," he said. "We were discussing the site for a new hospital, and the content of that discussion was that this is an awful long way out, and how long is it going to take for the growth to really occur necessary to sustain a hospital of this size. Now you look out and see all the massive development that is here."

Dressed in emergency room blues and doctor's whites, dozens of Baptist Medical Center South medical staff joined employees, volunteers and donors at the 4:30 p.m. ceremony. The building, empty windows showing hundreds of other steel beams inside, should be done by June 2009, although a Medical Surgical Progressive floor will open in March.

Richard Myers, a doctor with North Florida Obstetrical and Gynecological Associates, said he can't wait.

"We are all excited. We obviously have to wait, but we feel it will add facilities to a needed patient population here in the south of Jacksonville and north St. Johns County," he said. "It's going to be fantastic."

Baptist South opened the first part of its Mandarin facility in February 2005 at 14550 Old St. Augustine Road. The $84.4 million facility, adjacent to the Flagler Center office park, includes a 248,000-square-foot, 120-room hospital with emergency room and 80,000-square-feet of medical offices with pharmacy. …

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