Orthopedic surgical hospital wins approval despite pushback from medical center

Alan Condon -   Print  |

A group of 29 orthopedic surgeons received approval July 22 for a proposed 24-bed orthopedic surgical hospital in Delray Beach, Fla., The Palm Beach Post reported.

Palm Beach County's zoning commission gave the green light for the project after a two-hour meeting that centered on quality of care, how community hospitals would be affected and whether the facility would accept Medicare and Medicaid patients.

South Florida Spine and Orthopedic Institute will apply for a license to treat Medicare patients and also will accept charity, according to Robert Norton, MD, a spokesperson for the physician group that will operate the hospital.

Medical staff at Delray Medical Center had opposed the project, citing concerns related to "patient safety and access to comprehensive medical care," according to the report. A key issue was how the hospital would treat complications that arise in its emergency room, which it is required to have, as about a third of its patients are anticipated to stay overnight.

But many of these critics failed to appear at the meeting to make their case in person, the Post reported. The commission received more than 500 letters in support of the project.

Lori Vinikoor, of the Alliance of Delray Residential Associations and a board member of Delray Medical Center, argued that patients will travel to be treated at the proposed hospital and cited violations of a zoning code that deters projects in the Agricultural Reserve from being a "regional draw," according to the report.

An agent for the South Florida Spine and Orthopedic Institute swatted away that claim, stating that the project complies with the Agricultural Reserve rules.

The commissioner also raised conflict-of-interest concerns regarding Ms. Vinikoor, who did not disclose that she serves on the board of Delray Medical Center, according to the report. Ms. Vinikoor admitted that she should have disclosed her ties to the hospital, which opposed the project.

Construction of the 120,000-square-foot facility hospital, which will take about two years to complete, is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2022.

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