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“And then there were none.” The Cleveland Clinic, along with the only emergency room on the Barrier Island, was gone. The Cleveland Clinic moved here via the acquisition of the old North Beach Hospital. Their stated intention was to “grow with the Barrier Island”. They did...and then they left. What happened? In response to the Cleveland Clinic abandoning the community that sustained its growth for many years, GMCA President Bob Rozema caucused with 3 other concerned local residents (representatives of various neighborhood associations) to form the “Special Committee to Keep an Emergency Room Facility on the Barrier Island”. This is a chronicle of their efforts.


Cleveland Clinic Emergency Room


And then there were none. The Cleveland Clinic, along with the only emergency room on the barrier island, was gone. What happened? The Cleveland Clinic moved here via the acquisition of the old North Beach Hospital. Their stated intention was to “grow with the Barrier Island”. They did. They invested millions into the planned development of the facility, expanding services in parity with the expanding community. They carefully nurtured a reputation as the “Beach Hospital”. They enjoyed the unwavering support of the neighborhood. They were well on their way toward their ultimate goal, to replace the “starter facility” with the brand new premium facility as planned. They seemed happy...they said they were happy...but...

AHCAThe Cleveland Clinic asked the State of Florida (the Agency for Health Care Administration) if they could take their 150 bed CON (Certificate of Need), the valuable “permit” to operate a hospital facility (that was granted to the Cleveland Clinic under the auspices of using it at the beach site) and move to Weston! The State resoundingly denied the application. Broward County didn't need another acute care facility. All of the area Hospitals refuted the need for the move. The community and its elected representatives firmly rejected the move out of hand. BUT...

The Weston deal was PHAT. It is as simple as that. There was too much money at stake to let minor inconveniences, like abandoning the beach community that created their need to expand or succumbing to the absurd notion that there was no health related reason for them to move to Weston, get in the way! They successfully lobbied the appropriate jurisdictional authorities and POOF, all of those silly regulations that underpin the State of Florida Health Care System went to the cornfield. SURPRISE! In June 1997 the State changed its mind and the Cleveland Clinic is off to Weston! Something strange (albeit hardly unexpected) then transpired.

Emergency Rescue VehicleIn the face of a 10,000 signature petition being elicited from the beach community by a conglomerate of Neighborhood Associations (including the Galt Mile Community Association), an ad hoc collection of civic leaders and politicians released a brochure entitled “A Message from your Elected Officials regarding the relocation of the Cleveland Clinic Hospital from the Fort Lauderdale Beach”. The brochure was filled with contradictory facts about the quality of our ambulances, our EMS personnel, The Fort Lauderdale Fire-Rescue Department, the other Emergency Rooms in the area, and a virtual litany of the community’s remaining health care assets. The document discouraged any hope of another healthcare provider replacing the prodigal Cleveland Clinic because of adverse financial considerations and the stated assertion that “the State of Florida prohibits new hospital construction on barrier islands because of flood zones, hurricane risk and difficulty of evacuation”. Misdirection! In response to a letter from then Senator Jim Scott (currently our Broward County Commissioner) in August of 2000, the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) indicated that “the state has no restriction on the placement of an outpatient services clinic or an emergency care clinic”. Hmmm?

Congressman Clay Shaw addresses Emergency Room Issue
Congressman Clay Shaw & Bob Rozema
In essence it was a rather transparent version of “Get over it!”. The same politicians that previously claimed opposition to the move as inappropriate, irresponsible and unacceptable authored this document. The same politicians who extolled the Cleveland Clinic upon its arrival for “fulfilling the great need for acute care on the Barrier Island” now assert that it can be easily filled by other area hospitals. Don’t feel silly if you're bewildered by the notion that the same Agency for Health Care Administration that recognized a 150 bed need a few years ago now feels that the need has evaporated in the face of increased community demographics in population numbers and density! Hmmm? On the other hand, maybe you should feel silly if you are genuinely confounded by some of our elected officials’ apparent comfort with this concept. Live and learn.

The Hotline for the Agency For Health Care Administration (AHCA) is (888) 419-3456. Jeffrey N. Gregg, Chief, Bureau of Health Facility Regulation can be E-mailed at greggj@fdhc.state.fl.us telephoned at (850) 922-5455. Karen Rivera, Supervisor, CON Unit can be E-mailed at riverak@fdhc.state.fl.us and telephoned at (850) 488-8673.

LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL! Read the update below about the Emergency Room (Click Here) that is anticipated as part of the Wellness Resort Project!

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Former Cleveland Clinic

Emergency Rescue Truck

Former Emergency Room Bay

Cleveland Clinic

Agency For Health Care Administration

Florida Department of Health Care


New Emergency Room?


In response to the Cleveland Clinic abandoning the community that sustained its growth for many years, GMCA President Bob Rozema caucused with 3 other concerned local residents (representatives of various neighborhood associations) to form the “Special Committee to Keep an Emergency Room Facility on the Barrier Island”. Mark Hariton of Berkley South is the Chairman. Gary Sieger of the North Beach Island Alliance (NBIA), Robert Rozema of the Galt Mile Community Association, and Raymond W. Wolowicz (the South Beach Community Association's Medical Affairs Committee Chairman) all joined Mr. Hariton in a quest to provide our community with acute care emergency services. Ms. Suzanne Leroux of Galt Ocean Terrace also contributed to the process.

Planned Wellness Resort FacilityAfter several years of discouraging endeavors the committee struck paydirt! The Managing Partners of First National Equities, LLC (a division of Quest Development Group, LLC) have announced the initiation of a project designed to bring an Emergency Care Facility for the treatment and stabilization of patients (prior to transfer to an acute care hospital facility within 24 hours) to the site of the former Cleveland Clinic. The “Wellness Resort Project” would encompass a full service “Emergency Room” along with medical services aimed at providing Alternative Medical Healthcare. This would include a full-service world class spa and fitness center with a preventive maintenance orientation of healthy body, mind, and spirit.

The Fort Lauderdale Wellness Resort Facility is planned to be a development of over 100,000 square feet of clinical space, private professional practices, professional office space, retail shopping, fitness/exercise facilities as well as recreational and spa facilities. Each of these services will be offered in a resort setting which meets the hospitality needs of extended stay guests of the hotel and interval ownership units (time shares). The grounds of the complex have been designed to incorporate lush landscaping, ponds and waterfalls in a natural, park-like setting. The property is designed to be aesthetically appealing.

The parent organization, Quest Development Group, LLC, issued a press release describing themselves as:

Projected Emergency Room“The company is a provider of excellence of wellness oriented destination resorts and complementary alternative medicine and service spas. Each of these services will be supported by a consumer network of Vacation Interval ownership and affiliates along with a network of practitioners and business alliances featuring a world-class marketing organization and development format. The marketing concept promotes a holistic main stream and complementary alternative medicine health care model, wellness, fitness and other natural methodologies with a preventive orientation toward the healthy maintenance of body, mind, and spirit.”

The Bottom Line - They will install an Emergency Room Facility at the site of the former Cleveland Clinic in conjunction with a modern Alternative Medicine practice and a high-end, short-term, and extended-stay spa. Bob Rozema, who facilitated the deal on behalf of the Galt Mile Community Association and the “Special Committee to Keep an Emergency Room Facility on the Barrier Island”, hit a home run! Now we need to exercise patience as the “Committee” aspires to round the bases. Stay Tuned!

In order to put this update into the proper perspective, read a synopsis of the Cleveland Clinic’s inauspicious departure and the dilemma that the residents of the barrier island were forced to tolerate as a result. Click Here To Get Full Story!


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Emergency Room Time-Share Mutates!


Several months ago The Managing Partners of First National Equities, LLC (a division of Quest Development Group, LLC) announced the initiation of a project designed to bring an Emergency Care Facility for the treatment and stabilization of patients (prior to transfer to an acute care hospital facility within 24 hours) to the site of the former Cleveland Clinic (Click Here for Full Story). The Fort Lauderdale Wellness Resort Facility was planned to be a development of over 100,000 square feet of clinical space, private professional practices, professional office space, retail shopping, fitness/exercise facilities as well as recreational and spa facilities. The development dollars were to have sprung from the fruition of an interval ownership/alternative medicine concept.

Pennsylvania developer Donald Race informed a group of prospective investors on November 19th that he planned to alter the venue from the original time share concept to a less risky hotel-condominium hybrid. The 18-story $106 million projected medical-resort is, according to the prospectus, tied up by a $16 million contract that requires the balance be paid in about two months. The meeting was attended by roughly a dozen potential investors who were reviewing the option of purchasing space in the future resort.

There is dark and light in this story. While the fact that the developer is changing the venue so late in the game indicates that this project was not effectively conceived, the change from the often “snake-bit” time-share concept to a more stable condominium development gives the project a more realistic financial underpinning. The good news is that we won't have to hold our breath for very long. If the balance of the contract isn't paid in two months, this will become another South Florida fairy tale. Race claims he has a major investor “all but signed”. It will all come out in the February wash. Stay Tuned!

CLICK HERE to read about the departure of the Cleveland Clinic and the loss of its Emergency Facility. CLICK HERE to read about its potential replacement by the anticipated “Wellness Center/Resort”.

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Wellness Resort ER Alive and Well


“And from the ashes arose a phoenix...” The Lauderdale Beach Wellness Resort rides again. While this effort has been distinguished by an “on again, off again” revolving door that usually spells disaster for developments in South Florida, it appears that this project might actually have legs. If nothing else, Pennsylvania Developer Donald Race has clearly demonstrated the tenacity and flexibility that he’s going to need to bring this to financial fruition.

Wellness Resort PlazaThe original plan was to surround an emergency room (a community mandate) with interval ownership condominium units and a Wellness Center grounded in alternative medicine methodologies. The project seemed to wither as Mr. Race attempted to emplace the pieces of this unusual puzzle. Nevertheless, he regained his balance in mid-November by refocusing the concept to embrace a condominium-hotel in lieu of the shakier time-shares as initially proposed. The daunting task of juggling investors and the eclectic combination of professional services caused the project to once again fade.

Wellness Resort Emergency Room EntranceThe Lauderdale Beach Wellness Resort was the ostensible result of a three-year search to fill the void left by the departure of the prodigal Cleveland Clinic's Emergency Room. GMCA President Robert Rozema, North Beach Island Alliance’s Gary Seiger, Berkley South’s Mark Hariton and other civic leaders enthusiastically acclaimed the Wellness Resort as a credible replacement. President Rozema's optimism soured after several months passed with no sign of progress.

Unexpectedly, Dr. Alex Leeds of the Galt Merchants Association announced that Donald Race and Robin Massa of First National Equities, LLC were scheduled to address the Association’s May 1st Board of Directors meeting, with the Wellness Resort rounding out the agenda! Mr. Race and Ms. Massa explained that the Lauderdale Beach Wellness Center is in the advanced planning stages, enervated by a new group of serious participants that appear to have the resources and the will to actualize the plan. The pair of developers resurfaced at the May 15th GMCA Advisory Board meeting to reaffirm their intention to provide an Emergency Room to the Barrier Island. Apparently, the Quest Development Company, Inc. (parent of First National Equities) has partnered with Miller & Solomon General Contractors to build a combination Condominium Hotel with both whole AND interval ownership. The Alternative Medicine health care model will embrace a variety of preventive, holistic, and allopathic practitioners in addition to providing access to a full service world-class spa.

Drive ThroughMiller & Solomon, represented by CEO Donald J. Kipnis and President Lawrence L. Kibler, claims an impressive litany of accomplishments, including the Nova Southeastern University Library Research & Technology Center, The Health Professions Division, and the Administration Building. They also built the Mizner Grand in Boca Raton, The Palms in Fort Lauderdale, Grand Bay Residences in Key Biscayne, and The Floridian in Miami Beach. The partnership aspires to create an aesthetically disarming environment in which the provided professional services should power the financial engine required to support the Emergency Room.

Planned Wellness Resort Facility TowerThe Emergency Room is the key to this project. It provides the civic red carpet that guarantees the immediate acceptance of the overall project by every agency responsive to community input. Community support for an Emergency Room on the Barrier Island is blistering. President Rozema voiced concern when it was announced that the facility is technically termed an “Urgent Care Center”. He stated that the community wouldn't tolerate anything less than a full service Emergency Room. Race explained that while the services will be identical to those of ERs, the fact that patients aren't admitted to a room within the facility once stabilized disallows the legal nomenclature. Race claimed to be negotiating with several local Hospital’s for the actual delivery of ER medical services. Once patients are stabilized, they will be transferred to a hospital if admission is warranted. This discrepancy aside, the Urgent Care Center replicates all aspects of an Emergency Room.

The existing first floor ER access will remain structurally intact. Highly touted EDSA Landscape Architects has been commissioned to frame the ER entrance in conformity with the structure's thematic celebration of green space. It will be conjoined to 60,000 square feet of glass enclosed professional office and clinical space that will serve as the alternative medicine environment. The development is expected to go to planning and zoning sometime in June.

For information about the Lauderdale Beach Wellness Resort contact Robin Massa, Managing Member of First National Equities, LLC at (954) 473-4669 or E-Mail her at RLawMassa@aol.com.

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