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'Medical Row' grows with hospital expansion

Published:   |   Updated: May 9, 2013 at 04:18 PM

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Oak Hill Hospital's $50 million expansion is expected to create not only 71 on-site medical positions but an additional 50 spin-off jobs for suppliers, vendors and others in the community.

The expansion will also generate an average $5.4 million in personal income annually and contribute nearly $6.8 million a year to the gross county product, which is similar to the national concept of the gross domestic product.

The data was contained in a new report from the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council, at the request of the Hernando County Office of Business Development.

Economic Development Manager Mike McHugh said Oak Hill's expansion further cements State Road 50's growing reputation as a medical corridor.

McHugh said Monday the expansion shows the commitment and vote of confidence Oak Hill has to its employees, managers and the local community.

The $35.4 million in construction and $11.2 million in equipment spending is expected to create 874 full-time construction jobs in Hernando County and generate about $17 million in additional personal income, the report said.

Since it opened in 1984, Oak Hill Hospital has become one of the largest medical facilities in Hernando County, with 234 acute care beds. It is also one of the largest private employers in the area.

"The impact to the community is significant, enhancing health care services for our citizens and the creation of many new high-tech, high-wage jobs," according to McHugh.

McHugh said State Road 50 is fast becoming known as the area to go for medical services.

When Brooksville Regional Hospital opened in 2005, it brought with it more medical and professional offices, he said.

Add to the mix the HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital, the Hernando County Endoscopy and Surgical Center, and the PineBrook Regional Medical Center and the veterans' outpatient clinic.

The facilities have also committed to advancing services and technology. For example, Brooksville and Spring Hill Regional hospitals recently partnered with the University of Florida and Shands HealthCare to provide local patients with improved cardiac and stroke care.

Planning and Zoning Commissioner Robert Widmar said he hadn't thought about State Road 50 being a medical corridor but it "makes perfect sense."

Widmar said for Oak Hill to invest $50 million at this time is "incredible."

Florida is constantly linked with tourism for the amount of money it brings to the state. The same is true of the health care industry, which is equally vital to the state economy, he said.

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