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SRMC set for expansion under new owner

Photo: Aerial of Sebastian River Medical Center

The planned expansion of the Sebastian River Medical Center, which will include a 3-story tower with 94,000 square feet of additional space, is back on track, according to hospital president Kelly Enriquez. But it will not come close to completion by the originally forecast date of mid-2018.

The project was first unveiled in June of 2016 when the Sebastian hospital was still owned by Community Health Systems, a financially-strapped Tennessee-based conglomerate, which at that time owned some 200 hospitals in 29 different states.

In April 2017, the Steward Health Care System of Boston bought the Sebastian facility as well as the Wuestoff medical centers in Melbourne and Rockledge in Brevard County.

“Steward has been full steam ahead on this project from both a logistics and funding standpoint since” buying SRMC, Enriquez said.  “Any changes to the originally reported timeline predate Steward’s involvement.”

Enriquez now projects a completion date “by the end of next year” or “possibly even sooner.”

Architectural plans commissioned by the previous owner and completed by Gresham Smith and Partners, who Enriquez called “a nationally recognized architect we are pleased to have on our team,” remain in place, but Steward has hired a new construction company.

Suffolk Construction, a Boston neighbor of Steward Health that Enriquez said has “vast experience working with Steward and other leading hospital service providers on the construction of new facilities and facility expansions,” will build the major addition to the hospital.

What will the construction mean to patients and staff?

According to Enriquez, “In the first phases of the construction, which is slated to occur over the next few months, there will be up to twenty construction workers in and out as they do surveying, investigation, fencing and other important preliminary work.

“At the high point of construction, there will between 150-200 construction workers on the site, but construction work will be conducted in a manner that minimally impacts patient access to the current facility.”

When completed the facility will have added 48 additional private patient rooms along with 10 new operating rooms while increasing SRMC’s capacity from around 150 to just over 200 beds.

An additional 20,000 square feet within the facility's existing footprint is also slated for renovation.

Sebastian River Medical Center has had at least five different owners since it opened as a 103-bed facility in 1974.

In 1978 Humana Corp. purchased the hospital from the original owner; 15 years later, Health Management Associates acquired the U.S. 1 institution and invested $28 million in various upgrades between 2010 and 2011.

In 2014, Community Health Systems bought HMA, taking over SRMC as part of its portfolio of healthcare properties, and then, in 2017, Steward Health purchased the hospital.