While Fishermen’s Community Hospital officials decide what to do with the hurricane-damaged Marathon medical center, one thing is clear: The temporary hospital that sits on the property near mile marker 48.5 oceanside has to be moved.
It went up about two weeks after Hurricane Irma blew through the Florida Keys on Sept. 10, causing severe roof damage to the building and in turn, flooding inside.
Baptist Health South Florida recently bought Fishermen’s and Chief Executive Rick Freeburg told Monroe County commissioners at their Nov. 14 meeting the pop-up hospital comprising tents and mobile buildings will move. Services available include X-ray imaging and care for heart attacks and strokes. It is staffed with Emergency Room physicians, nurse practitioners, and radiology and lab technicians.
“We have a contract through the state with North Carolina, which provides these provisions until Dec. 16.,” he said. “From that point on, we’re planning to relocate the temporary hospital to another location and continue to use a higher grade of equipment for the second new temporary hospital and that will probably last about two years.”
The new site could possibly be at the west end of the Florida Keys Marathon International Airport.
Hospital officials have been quiet about when the main Marathon medical center will reopen, but Freeburg said at a Greater Marathon Chamber of Commerce luncheon last week it will need to be knocked down and rebuilt.
At the County Commission meeting earlier this month, County Emergency Management Director Martin Senterfitt said a few things would have to happen before the pop-up hospital is moved to the airport. The Federal Aviation Administration would have to approve it along with the state Legislature.
Senterfitt pointed to an area on a map behind the Disabled American Veterans club and said the temporary hospital could be there three years “realistically” because of the length of time it will take for the damaged hospital to get its building permits.
“Do we want to help Fishermen’s? The answer is yes,” said Commissioner George Neugent. “But we have to hear the details at the next meeting.”
The next commission meeting is Dec. 13 at the Murray E. Nelson Government Center in Key Largo, mile marker 102, at 9 a.m.
Katie Atkins: 305-440-3219