most of the city’s 37,000 population
increase in the past two
years, said Mark Robitaille, senior
vice president and chief operating
officer of Martin Memorial Health
“We certainly feel the population
is substantial enough for a
new hospital,” he said. “The state
of Florida agrees with us, which
is why in June 2007 it granted a
certificate of need to build a hospital
in Tradition. And residents
of western St. Lucie County have
seen a need as well — in 2006,
more than 10,000 community
members signed petitions pledging
their support for a new hospital
The application received preliminary
state approval in June,
but a month later, HCA St. Lucie
Medical Center denounced the
application, with CEO Gary
Cantrell issuing a written statement
saying that Martin’s decision
to build in western Port St.
Lucie would threaten his hospital’s
“The reason we’re both HCA
hospitals in St. Lucie County able
to employ more than 2,000
D.O.C. Plaza in St. Lucie West is home to St. Lucie Medical Center’s walk-in clinic and two other medical
employees, provide the wide range of services, pay more
than $2.2 million in taxes and donate hundreds of thousands
of dollars to local schools and community groups is
because of the financial foundation we have built,” Cantrell
“All of that would be at risk. I doubt if you can find
many people who are willing to give up something they
have worked 20 years to achieve without a fight,” he said.
Mark Robitaille said the 69-year-old Martin Memorial, a
not-for-profit organization, puts its money back into the
organization in the form of capital improvements, purchase
of advanced technologies and additional services.
St. Lucie Medical Center plans to appeal the state’s preliminary
approval at an administrative hearing in November.
“With the legal challenges from HCA and expected
future challenges, it could be another eight years at least
before we even begin construction on a hospital at
Tradition,” Robitaille said. “In the interim, western St.
Lucie County continues to grow, increasing an already substantial
need for medical services.”
To fill the gap, Martin Memorial plans to build a $4.1
million emergency center with 12-15 beds and all the capabilities
of an in-hospital emergency room inside their existing
St. Lucie West medical center. Construction begins in
October, with completion expected in 12 to 16 months.
Cantrell voiced concern about the distance between the
emergency center in St. Lucie West and Martin Memorial’s
hospital on East Ocean Boulevard in Stuart.
“If a patient needs the level of care only provided by a