November 10, 2017

Lee Health inking deal to become Babcock Ranch’s sole medical provider next year

By: Vicki Parsons - IT

FRANK GLUCK, FGLUCK@NEWS-PRESS.COM Published 7:20 p.m. ET Nov. 9, 2017 | Updated 7:38 p.m. ET Nov. 9, 2017

Representatives from several building and development companies joined Babcock Ranch developers to assess their territory and provide an overview of home styles and features they will be incorporating into the very first neighborhood. Ricardo Rolon /
babcock ranch town center rendering

Artistic rendering of Babcock Ranch’s town center.(Photo: Special to The News-Press)

Lee Health is negotiating a deal with Babcock Ranch that could make the public hospital system the sole medical provider in the burgeoning Southwest Florida development by next summer.

Under the terms of the arrangement, Lee Health would begin opening a Lee Physician Group family practice clinic, a physical rehabilitation facility and a wellness center in March in the community’s town center.

Babcock Ranch would agree to provide nearly $1.4 million in financial incentives to Lee Health as part of a five-year commitment from Lee Health, according to preliminary plans.

Lee Health expects to lose nearly $300,000 during the first five years of the project. But the deal would allow it to secure an early foothold in the 18,000-acre planned community straddling Lee and Charlotte counties. Babcock expects to have 2,000 households by 2021.

Dave Cato, Lee Health’s chief administrative officer for outpatient services, pitched the idea to the organization’s elected board of directors on Thursday.

“This is an exciting opportunity to serve our community. It’s an opportunity to partner with America’s newest town, if you will,” Cato told the board. “The mission and vision of the two organizations align very well.”

Rick Severance, president of Babcock Ranch, also urged the board to consider a partnership.

“We really value the opportunity to be a strategic partner,” Severance said. “And we think — and I’m speaking for Syd Kitson, (who completed the Babcock purchase in 2006), truly, it’s his vision — we will do what we can on our end, from a financial perspective, to make this happen.”

The deal has not been finalized. Lee Health’s governing board is expected to formally consider it in the coming weeks.