Florida’s top health-care regulator gave final approval last week to a pair of new hospitals for southern Sarasota County.
Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Justin Senior issued a final order approving Sarasota Memorial Health System’s certificate-of-need application for a 90-bed facility in Venice.
The final order also approved Venice Regional Medical Center’s application to build a 210-bed hospital to replace its current 300-plus bed facility.
The order came over the objections of two competing facilities, Fawcett Memorial Hospital and Englewood Community Hospital, and can be challenged in appellate court.
Tallahassee attorney Steve Ecenia represents both hospitals and told The News Service of Florida the facilities hadn’t decided whether to fight the final order.
“We’re still evaluating whether to appeal,” Ecenia said in a statement.
Fawcett Memorial Hospital and Englewood Community Hospital --- which are owned by the HCA health-care chain --- filed challenges in state administrative court after the Agency for Health Care Administration in December 2016 gave preliminary approval to the applications for certificates of need, a regulatory device the state uses to regulate hospital and nursing home construction.
But Administrative Law Judge W. David Watkins disagreed with the HCA facilities and issued a recommended order on May 8 affirming the agency’s decision to grant certificates of need to Sarasota Memorial Health System and Venice Regional Medical Center.
Senior’s final order implements the judge’s recommendations. See the final order.