Construction issues delay opening of Jackson West

Construction issues have delayed completion of Jackson West Medical Center, but CEO Eddie Borrego said last week that the facility will be ready by late summer.

“We’re now going to open summer of 2021, sometime in the July range,” Mr. Borrego said. “That’s mainly because we’ve made several additions and changes to the facility to be able to accommodate the growing demand.”

The opening of the hospital has been postponed several times.

In 2019, Jackson Health System announced its plan to open what would be the first-ever 100-bed hospital in Doral with a target date of October 2020. Yet last October, due to issues surrounding bad weather and the rise of the pandemic, that date was postponed to spring 2021.

This year “construction-related constraints” are mainly to blame for the delay, Mr. Borrego said, then added: “There has been a labor shortage due to the busy construction market in South Florida, along with a number of covid-related labor impacts with local labor, as well as a national supplier.”

Pre-existing shortages in the labor market didn’t help. On Jan. 2, 2019, the South Florida Sun Sentinel described a survey and forecast by the Associated General Contractors of America in Arlington, VA, that showed Florida contractors expected an acute shortage of construction workers that was likely to continue through the end of that year – even though plans to hire workers and add new projects were in place.

The pandemic worsened that shortage.

Construction companies across the region are having trouble finding skilled workers to hire for jobs.

But that’s not all.  According to Mr. Borrego, local manufacturing companies have been forced to close assembly plants, factories and shops due to coronavirus exposure among workers and strict quarantine protocols.

“Several shipments coming from other countries were also held up in shipping ports for inspection for several weeks,” he said. “All these covid-related issues have contributed to delays on construction projects, not just for us, but for other organizations.”

The Doral hospital will be named the Jose Milton Memorial Hospital at the Jackson West Medical Center campus. The address is 7800 NW 29th St. Although located in Doral, it will also serve surrounding areas west of Florida 826 that have long been part of a healthcare desert.

“The Southwestern area of the county has traditionally been underserved. There are no hospitals within the radius here,” Mr. Borrego said. “We have the potential to serve 500,000 residents… what we wanted to do was be able to provide full-service care to the community.”

Thirty-nine-year-old Alexander Jaime of Hialeah is pleased that there will be a Jackson hospital in Doral.

“There’s not even a hospital in Doral,” he said. “I live like 15 to 20 minutes away, but I’m just happy there’s going to be a major hospital in Doral.”

Jose Milton Memorial Hospital is to be a full-service acute care hospital. The Jackson West campus will feature an emergency room, a surgical center and a state-of-the-art inpatient and outpatient diagnostic facility. Through a partnership with the University of Miami, other practices will be offered as well, including obstetrics, orthopedic surgery, bariatric surgery and pediatric specialty.

With an operating room and a catheterization lab, which were not in the project’s original plan, the target cost now stands at $326 million, $1 million higher than the original target.

Doral Mayor Juan Carlos Bermudez said he’s glad to welcome the new facility to his city this summer.

“With the health and well-being of our community as the utmost priority, we are looking forward to welcoming the new state-of-the-art Jackson Health facility to our city,” he said. “They have had a presence in Doral for some time… and have proven to be a very valuable community partner, providing quality medical care to our residents and those from surrounding areas.”

Added Mr. Borrego: “With a hospital, you want to make sure that you open and you’re ready to go day one. There have been a few delays, so we want to make sure the quality is there before we open.”

This article first appeared in Miami Today.

Jamilka Gibson is a senior at Florida International University who is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Media. Gibson is a Panamanian-American who aspires to one day become a reporter/anchor in Miami, FL.