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Update on Boca Raton Regional Hospital/Schmidt Medical Center

You may remember that FAU and Boca Raton Community Hospital had reached an agreement back in 2006 to build the "nation's newest academic hospital" and the "nations' safest hospital" on the southeast corner of the Boca campus where the new dorms are being constructed. The $750M deal, to be called the Schmidt Medical Center, would have really been a mark of distinction for both FAU and the hospital itself. It was going to be very nice:

Then it all fell apart. Ultimately the deal was canceled and the hospital lost something like $40M of time and development they had put into securing and imagining the property.

What happened there, and can something like that be renewed?

Turns out that a couple years ago, Boca Raton Community Hospital was "on the brink of failure," Jerry Fedele, the President and CEO, recently told the City Council before outlining bullet points of $120M revenue loss, physician alienation and rapid leadership turnover. "I don't think some people understood how close we were to being sold or closed."

Four years later, Boca Community has stabilized and become profitable again, changing their name to Boca Raton Regional Hospital to underline their renewed life as a regional referral center. And even though the deal fell through, "we've had a growing relationship with FAU on graduate medical education, supporting the medical school and in July of 2014 we will have our first residents on site at Boca Raton Regional Hospital... in medicine and surgery."

He noted that BRRH is fortunate to have most patients covered by insurance due to the demographics of the City, as most hospitals struggle with this. Just under 70% are Medicare patients, however, and the upcoming changes in Medicare mean that "we'll look back on 2012 as the good old days."

He lauded the support coming from the community and the council, noting that in the last two years alone, the community has donated $67M to BRRH. To put that into context, "If you add up my other 28 years altogether, they don't add up to $67M." Quite a statement. "But without that, we could not survive though. We'd be one of the big for-profit centers."

That's not to say donors wouldn't like BRRH to focus on things like pediatrics, which is what inspired the construction of the hospital in the first place. Unfortunately, "we cannot be everything to everybody. In this market you can only succeed if you're the best at what you do." Thus BRRH chooses to focus on cancer, cardiovascular, orthopedics/sports, women's health and neuroscience as the five main areas of care. "People coming here decide between BRRH and [places like] Johns Hopkins. That's why we have to be the best at what we do."

Apparently they have the busiest robotic surgery program in Palm Beach County. Soon they'll be the only comprehensive, tertiary neuroscience in South Florida.

Awesome! So now that the ship is righted and they're establishing a reputation for quality in certain fields, is it time to revisit the Schmidt Medical Center plan and move to FAU?

"When I came here four years ago, people talked about a new hospital on the FAU campus. We have a beautiful campus where we're situated now. We have plenty of room for growth. We've set out a plan to essentially rebuild our hospital in place on our campus in the next 8-10 years."

There it is, right from the guy at the very top. No academic hospital for FAU.

It's disappointing but we already knew the deal was canceled, so how upset can we be, really? on the upside, the hospital is still hosting our medical students and offering them residencies, and it looks to be on a tremendous upswing, which means that FAU College of Medicine grads could have plenty of great opportunities, both during medical school and otherwise.

After all, they're building a $9.5M ER in January 2013 and a $40M new Marcus Neuroscience Center breaking ground about that same time. Breaking ground in 2014 will be a new $20M Women's health center, of which $10M was donated by the Lynn family (whose name is on FAU's Nursing building). Other Master Plan upgrades include a new main entry, new lab and pharmacy facility, proton cancer therapy at the Heart and Vascular Institute, an expanded educational center and hospital signs on Glades and 13th, so people know where the hospital is. "Make it clear that you're entering a major academic center." Overall the plan cost about $150M.

Just wish it could be at FAU. But hey, that's more room on the Boca campus for other things like... new dorms! And any of the other crazy ideas up on this blog.

                                                                                GO OWLS!


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