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New rehab hospital wins key approval

The 60-bed hospital on State Road 50 will offer physical therapy, including a therapeutic gymnasium.

By JOY DAVIS-PLATT

© St. Petersburg Times,
published September 11, 2001


BROOKSVILLE -- A unanimous vote by the county's Planning and Zoning Commission on Monday cleared the way for a new 60-bed rehabilitation hospital on State Road 50.

The commission agreed Monday to a special exception use permit for the project proposed for the south side of SR 50, half a mile west of Mariner Boulevard.

The 60,000-square-foot hospital will offer physical therapy, including a therapeutic gymnasium and hydrotherapy room, separate patient and staff dining areas, and a physician evaluation clinic.

HealthSouth had already secured a certificate of need from the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration for the project.

At the meeting, HealthSouth engineer Rich Matassa questioned the county planning department's recommendation that the company build a joint driveway with its proposed neighbor, Florida Medical Center.

Although such an entryway would link both properties to Weeping Willow Street, he said, HealthSouth would be at a disadvantage if Florida Medical decided not to immediately build the entryway.

"To hold the building of our hospital hostage under the conditions of them building a frontage road would be wrong," he told planning commissioners. "Effectively, it leaves us sitting there with a piece of property we can't build a hospital on."

The commission agreed and granted HealthSouth a temporary right-in/right-out access from its 8.9-acre site to Weeping Willow Street until a frontage road is built.

"All we're really after is that access alignment with Weeping Willow," said Elaine Ebaugh, director of operations for HealthSouth.

The Hernando County commissioners have 30 days to decide whether they will review the permit.

An investor-owned corporation founded in 1984, HealthSouth is based in Birmingham, Ala.

The company employs more than 51,000 medical and business employees in more than 2,000 facilities in the United States and abroad.

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