Medical complex featuring world-class hospital to launch in WPB

Jupiter Medical Center and Mount Sinai Hospital of New York are expanding their alliance with an aggressive plan to bring a range of health care services to downtown West Palm Beach after a failed bid to do so last year.

The Jupiter Medical Center Mount Sinai New York Plaza will be the new name for an office building at 625 N. Flagler Drive, formerly the Bank of America Centre.

The 110,000-square-foot building changed hands Oct. 14 for $23 million. Partners Michael McCloskey and Leslie and Tom Quick bought the building from car dealer Ed Napleton.

With the new ownership group comes a new vision for this 10-story property.

McCloskey said his goal is to create a facility that will serve the needs of central Palm Beach County residents who want excellent medical care right in their backyard. The partnership is the most extensive between a New York-based hospital and a Palm Beach County hospital.

McCloskey’s motivation was his father’s death from cancer more than a decade ago.

“We live in one of the most affluent communities in the country, and there’s a dearth of world-class providers,” said McCloskey, of Palm Beach. “The first call we make shouldn’t be to Delta” to board an airplane to fly out of town, he said.

The deal deepens a relationship established in February 2015 between the hospitals, when they announced plans to partner on cardiac services and research, including clinical trials.

The location also caps a protracted effort by the hospitals to find a home in West Palm Beach. Both hospitals had been interested in taking space in a complex McCloskey sought to build last year on the vacant city-owned “tent” site at Okeechobee Boulevard and South Dixie Highway. But the deal didn’t go through.

The Jupiter Medical/Mount Sinai Plaza will blend a New York hospital with strong research and clinical trial expertise with the local ties of a growing community hospital. Mount Sinai is ranked among the top 10 in the nation for cardiology and heart surgery, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Both entities are not-for-profit.

And both see growing West Palm Beach, and nearby Palm Beach, as ripe for opportunity.

John Couris, president and chief executive of Jupiter Medical Center, said this was the hospital’s first foray into a metropolitan area. “We want to be part of that environment and take care of the entire community,” Couris said.

Once a sleepy suburban hospital, Jupiter Medical has been on a growth tear in recent years.

Dr. Arthur Klein, president of the Mount Sinai Health Network, said Mount Sinai’s goal in establishing a West Palm Beach presence was to provide continuous care for patients who travel back and forth from New York to Palm Beach County during the year.

“Continuity of care, as opposed to episodic care, is very important,” Klein said.

Klein praised the building’s location along Flagler Drive, next to the Flagler Memorial Bridge, as an “ideal location” to serve not only West Palm Beach area residents but also Palm Beach residents.

Together, both hospitals are leasing about 15,000 square feet on the ground floor of 625 N. Flagler Drive. The space should be ready in six months. Expansion to a 16,000-square-foot upper floor is likely in the future.

McCloskey said he hopes over time, most of the building will become a health care campus, although right now it’s still home to law firms, tech companies and other office tenants.

Jupiter Medical’s first floor space will be an urgent care center open seven days a week, 12 hours a day. It also will serve as “convenient care,” or care for people whose doctors’ offices are not open when they need to be seen by a physician, Couris said.

Mount Sinai’s space will feature doctors practicing cardiology, gastroenterology and oncology, plus other practice areas the hospital still is evaluating, Klein said.

No hospital beds or surgical facilities will be in the space. Instead, the offices will contain the same type of equipment found in a doctor’s office, such as X-rays or ultrasound machines, Couris said.

Couris said health care is moving away from in-hospital treatment to out-patient “ambulatory” care.

And urgent care centers are the hottest trend out there, with hospitals opening locations away from their main campuses to attract patients and compete with independent urgent care companies.

Jupiter Medical, at 1210 S. Old Dixie Highway, has two urgent care sites. One is at 1335 West Indiantown Road and at 5430 Military Trail in the Abacoa Shopping Center, both also in Jupiter.

The Jupiter Medical/Mount Sinai partnership is a boost to the county’s efforts to create a health care and life sciences cluster, as well as a major push toward diversifying West Palm Beach’s employment base, said Kelly Smallridge, president of the Business Development Board, the county’s chief business recruitment arm.

In addition, the Jupiter Medical/Mount Sinai alliance will raise West Palm Beach’s profile, making it more attractive to new businesses, jobs and residents, Smallridge said.

Efforts to bring the hospitals to a property owned by the city of West Palm Beach died last year after some city officials voiced concern that such a medical center would cannibalize business from for-profit Tenet Health Corp., which owns Good Samaritan Medical Center up the street at 1309 N. Flagler Drive, as well as St. Mary’s Medical Center at 45th Street.

Smallridge dismissed that concern.

To the extent the hospitals’ presence creates competition for existing market players, “That’s what America is all about,” Smallridge said. “Competition increases quality.”

Of course, West Palm Beach is attractive to these hospitals not only for its growing population but its proximity to Palm Beach and the island’s wealthy, philanthropic residents.

When Cleveland Clinic first confirmed plans to take space for medical offices at the CityPlace Tower office building in 2007, former chief executive Dr. Bernardo Fernandez acknowledged that serving wealthy Palm Beach benefactors was a plus.

Klein said the Flagler office building’s proximity to Palm Beach “was not the driver of this relationship. … We’re already doing a significant amount of fundraising” on the island. Still, Klein acknowledged “it won’t hurt” for Palm Beachers to see Mount Sinai’s name emblazoned on a building.

Klein said Mount Sinai does not plan to bring down a bunch of New York doctors to muscle out physicians practicing in the area.

Instead, the office will allow local doctors to access Mount Sinai’s research and advanced clinical practices. Mount Sinai might also selectively buy physician practices, as it did last year when it purchased Palm Beach Cardiovascular Clinic and renamed it Mount Sinai Heart New York Palm Beach.

Mark Pateman, a director with the Cushman & Wakefield real estate brokerage, said the collaboration is the wave of the future in the health care industry, particular in busy downtown districts.

“This is the tip of the iceberg,” Pateman said of the trend. “You’re going to see any number of local health care systems pairing up with the Mount Sinais and NYUs (New York University) and Johns Hopkins (University of Baltimore) to promote their brand and drive more business.”

Alexandra Clough writes about the economy, real estate and the law.

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