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Stand-Alone ER On Drawing Board in Fla.

NAPLES, Fla. -- Good news for the North Naples/Bonita Springs/Estero/San Carlos Park area. A stand-alone emergency room in south Lee County is still on the drawing board.

After hearing little about the concept for the past several months, we are pleased an official from Lee Memorial Health System held a public meeting the other day in Estero to brief the are's civic leaders on what is and is not going on.

A hospital is not in the works -- and won't be for another 10 years, the group was told. That could involve a partnership with Naples-based NCH Healthcare System, furthering the teamwork already in place at Bonita Springs Community Health Center on Coconut Road.

But the idea of a super clinic, stabilizing patients for care at hospitals in North Naples or Fort Myers, is another matter. That could come more quickly and lead to a hospital later. NCH CEO Allen Weiss says a joint venture for the ER has not yet been discussed.

Getting state government to drop its moratorium on freestanding ERs took community effort and cooperation. So will taking the next step, which could include funding.

It won't help for politicians such as Bonita Springs City Council member Richard Ferreira to say that health-care needs should take precedence over health-care funding problems. Please, tell us something new. We're more interested in solutions and how progress can be made on getting lifesaving care to south Lee patients without long ambulance trips.

The good news for now is that the idea is alive -- as it should be for our area's epicenter of growth. Hurrah.

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