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Sarasota Memorial to Open 24-Hour Emergency Center

SARASOTA, Fla. -- North Port will finally get a much-needed emergency medical center.

That is good news for the city of approximately 50,000 people and puts the city one step closer to obtaining the medical services that it has long sought.

Sarasota Memorial Hospital announced recently that it will spend about $11 million to acquire and equip the first floor of a three-story medical office building on Toledo Blade Boulevard. The 24-hour emergency center is slated to open Jan. 2, 2009.

The announcement reflects recognition by Sarasota Memorial s board that North Port is part of the public hospital s county-wide taxing district and has a pressing need for an emergency-care facility.

North Port residents seeking emergency care must now travel roughly a half hour to one of the six hospitals within a 30-mile radius. That is hardly adequate when a person suffers a serious injury, cardiac arrest or another medical emergency.

The emergency center will provide critical care and observation beds for up to 24 hours. Patients would be transferred to a hospital if additional care is necessary.

North Port s pursuit of a full hospital met a setback in 2005 when an administrative law judge blocked a company from building a hospital in the city, ruling the region has enough hospitals to serve residents.

A free-standing emergency room does not require the certificate-of-need process that stopped that earlier effort.

If the need for a hospital becomes demonstrable, Sarasota Memorial will be well-positioned: It has long-range plans for a facility on 32 acres that it owns in North Port.

But sooner rather than later, the emergency center will meet the city s most urgent medical need.

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