Tuesday, October 07, 2014

EDITORIAL >> Booster shot in the arm

Just as flu season begins, Jacksonville got a big healthy dose to fix what ails it — an $18 million health-care facility. Construction will start next year.

This is momentous news for the city that has tried in recent years to focus on economic development, but has had little luck.

The outpatient-care campus could produce hundreds of jobs and offer services from a variety of specialists, dentists, nutritionists, social workers, a pharmacy and surgeries for patients who will be released on the same day of their procedures.

The complex will provide medical services to thousands of patients in the area. It will be located on 9.25 acres on Braden Street between Marshall Road and Hwy. 67/167, across the street from North Metro Medical Center.

Michael Arvin of Alliance Strategic Health Advisors in Dallas, the company planning the center, announced the news in an exclusive report in The Leader on Saturday.

It’s also good news for Mayor Gary Fletcher, whose embattled economic developer, Rickey Hayes of Owasso, Okla., helped bring Arvin to town. Timely, too, since Fletcher will debate his opponent, former Police Chief Gary Sipes, at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in an event sponsored by the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce.

The mayor has stood by Hayes despite tough criticism for not bringing in the businesses he promised even after five years with a contract that’s paid him about $250,000. That kind of steadfastness is admirable in a way, and, if Hayes can have a hand in a deal of this scale every five years, he will certainly be worth it.

Fletcher is sure to be riding high into next week’s debate. “This is just, I think, the first phase of what we’re looking at, so it’s not the end. It’s a growing thing, as we believe that communities that take care of education and health care are communities that have great futures,” the mayor said.

Arvin explained, “With the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, many communities such as Jacksonville face challenges when it comes to addressing the health care needs of their community.”

He continued, “This results in exploring alternative methods to patient care and creates new opportunities for providers of care, local governments and private sector developers to come together and coordinate their efforts to meet those challenges.”

In other words, this new facility will be hoping to fill a void and cash in on the Affordable Care Act — often referred to snidely as Obamacare — and its focus on preventative and outpatient care.

So, without health-care reform, this project would likely not be happening.