Baptist Health Approved for Expanded Services on Miami Beach

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

Baptist Health Approved for Expanded Services on Miami Beach:

Facility will provide broader range of outpatient procedures

Baptist Health, which has provided gastroenterology services only in its ambulatory surgical center in Miami Beach since opening last July, has received the go-ahead from the City’s Planning Board to provide a broader range of outpatient procedures. 
Nancy Batista-Rodriguez, CEO, Baptist Outpatient Services told the Board the new services would be similar in duration to the shorter two- to three-hour GI procedures, giving as examples carpal tunnel surgery, joint and spinal injections, cataract surgery, and gynecological procedures such as hysteroscopies. By definition, the ambulatory surgical centers conduct same-day procedures with no overnight stays. Baptist's Conditional Use Permit (CUP) also specifically prohibits overnight stays.
Attorney Joe Goldstein said, “The expectation is that demographics would dictate” the procedures based on the needs of the Miami Beach community.” He emphasized there is “no expansion of footprint… it’s the other uses just fitting within the same box.”
When the facility first received its Conditional Use Permit in 2015, the City’s Code did not specifically define ambulatory surgical centers or how and where they would be allowed to operate which is why the procedures were limited. A code amendment last year defined the centers and allowed them to offer Class II medical uses within CD-2 zoning districts.
Batista-Rodriguez said 55 percent of patients served at the facility are from Miami Beach. The rest are mostly tourists using the urgent care services. With regard to expanding the types of procedures, she said some patients from the Beach have gone to the Brickell location because “they wanted to go to a Baptist facility” and the services weren’t available on Miami Beach.
She anticipates the expansion of services will only increase the number of staff by five or six. “The facility today is already functioning as an ambulatory surgery center and we’re only adding procedures over the course of the day,” Batista-Rodriguez told the Board. She noted the facility is well under its maximum parking capacity and didn’t anticipate any greater impact on the community. There are 174 spaces in the facility’s garage.
To date, “a little over 7,000 patients” have received urgent care services, according to Batista-Rodriguez. About 500 patients a month receive physical therapy, and three primary care physicians see 530 patients a year, she said. 
Baptist Health has a master lease for the entire five-story building at 709 Alton Road. Within the facility they have a diagnostic center, endoscopy center, urgent care and primary care services, along with Miami Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Institute. One of the requirements of the CUP is that they maintain 3,600 sq ft of first floor retail which has been difficult to fill.

Ana Lopez-Blazquez, Executive Vice President, Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer, Baptist Health South Florida and Chief Executive Officer, Baptist Health Enterprises told the Board, “It’s been unfortunate that despite our best efforts, we have not been able to lease the retail on the ground floor. We’re hopeful that with an increased activation on Alton Road that we’ll be a little more fortunate.” She noted restaurant use which would require exhaust fans was not compatible with a health facility which needs clean air and that retail such as a liquor store would not be compatible with Baptist’s mission.
“We’re making our best efforts to try to be able to get somebody in there that’s not health care specific but more retail oriented,” Lopez-Blazquez said. When asked about “Plan B”, she replied, “We don’t have a Plan B” but added she’s “optimistic” that over time either with reduced rent or a different leasing company that the space will be filled. 
When Board member Daniel Veitia pushed back on efforts to fill the space, Lopez-Blazquez said, “There’s not that much pedestrian traffic there, folks aren’t clamoring to get in there. So, we will continue with our best efforts and do what we need to do. We’re not asking for relief of any kind. We understand” the terms of the CUP.
Russell Galbut, whose Crescent Heights developed the property, took a different view. “There’s a great chance [the retail] will not be successful,” he said and asked the Board to give Baptist relief on the retail requirement.
As there was no formal application for it, the Board did not act on Galbut’s request but voted unanimously to approve the expansion of services.
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