A BIGGER HEART Sacred Heart Health System President and CEO Laura Kaiser announced on June 14 that they will be building a 112-bed facility on their Pensacola campus for adult patients. Forty of the beds will be for intensive care patients.
The five floors will be added to the Sacred Heart Heart & Vascular Institute over the next four years. Greenhut Construction has been awarded the contract and is expected to break ground next spring.
“We are literally bursting at the seams,” said Kaiser. “We see this expansion as having a positive impact on the local economy. It will add jobs and expand our access to those who need us.”
When asked if the expansion is a signal that Sacred Heart is moving away from its focus on women and children and if this construction will delay the construction of a children’s hospital, Kaiser said, “We are still very committed to women and children.”
She pointed out that they have recently hired Dana Bledsoe as the president of the Sacred Heart Women and Children’s Hospital. “We are working with Nemours to master plan our facility and optimize the services we offer.”
Carol Schmidt, Chief Operating Officer of SHHS and President of Sacred Heart Hospital, added that they are in the strategic planning process now and that there are great growth opportunities in children’s services.
Kaiser was clearly excited about the project and emphasized, “Healthcare is basic infrastructure for the community.”
To echo that sentiment, Mayor Ashton Hayward and the board of the Pensacola Bay Area Chamber of Commerce were on hand to hear the announcement. Mayor Hayward thanked Sacred Heart for its investment in Pensacola and offered his support.
DAVIS RETURNS TO DIB The owner of Jewelers Trade Shop, Corbett Davis Jr., has been nominated by Mayor Ashton Hayward, along with Vinyl co-owner Evan Levin, to the Downtown Improvement Board.
The Downtown Improvement Board is a quasi-governmental, not-for-profit agency created in 1972 for the purpose of physically, economically and socially revitalizing downtown Pensacola. The DIB coordinates the marketing and promotion of the 44-block central business core of downtown Pensacola.
The appointment of Davis can’t be good news for DIB executive director Kim Kimbrough. Davis resigned from the DIB board while serving as its chair in February 2009 over concerns about how Kimbrough was managing downtown parking.
HATCHERY SITE APPROVED By a unanimous vote, the Pensacola City Council approved letting the mayor negotiate with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for putting a Hubbs-SeaWorld Marine Enhancement Center at Bruce Beach. The approval was necessary for Florida Fish and Wildlife and Hubbs to apply for a $15 million grant from BP.
Initially, Councilman Ronald Townsend opposed the location of the hatchery at Bruce Beach. The other site under consideration was the Port of Pensacola, and he had not been briefed by City staff on the Bruce Beach site. He was concerned about taking potentially valuable property off the tax rolls for a $1-a-year lease.
Councilwoman Megan Pratt moved for the vote to be delayed to allow time for the public to have more input on the site. “The public has a right to have their say,” said Pratt.
Mayor Ashton Hayward told the council that timing was critical to qualify for the BP grant. “Time is money, folks,” said Hayward. “The public will have input when we bring back the lease agreement. The last thing we want to do is look a gift horse in the mouth. We don’t have the luxury to brush opportunity away.”
Pratt’s motion failed for lack of a second. The council approved the mayor’s recommendation, 8-0, with Councilman Sam Hall absent.