January 17, 2018

Lee Health gets exclusive Babcock Ranch medical rights

By: Vicki Parsons - IT

FRANK GLUCK, FGLUCK@NEWS-PRESS.COMPublished 4:43 p.m. ET Jan. 11, 2018 | Updated 5:59 p.m. ET Jan. 11, 2018


Lee Health and Babcock Ranch have sealed a deal to give the public hospital system exclusive rights to perform medical services in the new, ecologically minded community northeast of Fort Myers.

The deal, which the hospital system’s elected governing board approved Thursday, provides Lee Health these rights for the first five years and gives the organization the option to renew after another five.

For 15 years, Lee Health has the first rights to provide certain medical services, including emergency medicine, behavioral health services, urology and surgical services.

“It’s a very unique opportunity,” said Dave Cato, Lee Health’s chief of outpatient services. “It’s not very often that you can partner with a community from its inception with an exciting vision and aligned goals.”

Lee Health has been working on this deal for months, so this final agreement has been expected.

The agreement is essentially part of a lease agreement for more than 21,000 square feet in the development’s Town Center. Both parties have the option to exit the deal with six months notice.

The first phase of the project opening later this year includes a wellness center with exercise machines, a lap pool and workout classes; Lee Physician Group family medicine offices with telemedicine services; and, eventually, occupational and speech therapy.

Some board members questioned why pediatrics were not part of the early medical services. Lee Health president and CEO, Larry Antonucci, said the Lee Physician Group clinic will add services as residents demand them.

“One of the great things about this relationship is the exclusivity so that if there is a demand for pediatricians we’ll be providing pediatricians. If it’s for heart surgeons, we’ll be providing heart surgeons,” Antonucci said. “This is the beginning of a long-term relationship to provide care to a community.”

Babcock Ranch is an 18,000-acre housing development that includes 55,000 acres of nature preserve. Planners predict that it will be home to 40,000 residents and 19,500 households over the next 25 years.