From Humble Beginnings, AdventHealth is Helping Build the Future of Central Florida Healthcare

From l to r: Robert Wahlers, vice president of philanthropy, AdventHealth Foundation; Keith Lowe, director, strategic real estate; AdventHealth and Bryan Emde, executive director, AdventHealth discuss AdventHealth’s plan to keep health care needs ahead of population growth in Central Florida. The three spoke at Contractors, Connectors and Closers of Orlando’s April event at Barton Malow.

by Michael Monahan, President & CEO, Moxē Integrated Marketing 

AdventHealth traces its Orlando roots back to 1908, when a group of Seventh Day Adventists bought a wooden farmhouse for $9,000.  

From those humble beginnings, with 20 beds, an X-ray machine, dirt roads and one doctor in an old, wooden farmhouse to today, a healthcare giant with more than 5,000 beds in Central Florida alone. Orlando’s AdventHealth facilities are a part of an $11 billion health care system with 54 hospitals in nine states and $600 million in annual capital investments. 

But if that was the story, you’d be missing out on where healthcare is going,” said Robert Wahlers, vice president of philanthropy, AdventHealth Foundation. 

He suggested the future of healthcare in Central Florida is about outpatient care, health parks and other facilities to meet the growing demand for health care from Central Florida’s rapidly increasing population. 

Central Florida’s AdventHealth facilities have more patient visits than any other hospital in the U.S.,” Wahlers said. “It’s pretty exciting (how) many patients are served here.” 

“As folks come here, we’re going to continue to be growing to meet that demand,” he said. 

From l to r: Moxē Marketing and Business Development Manager Danielle Gump and Moxē President & CEO Michael Monahan attend April’s Contractors, Connectors and Closers of Orlando event at Barton Malow.

Wahlers was among leaders from Advent Health, who presented at Contractors, Closers & Connectors of Orlando’s (CCC Orlando) April event, which focused on AdventHealth’s Central Florida Development, held at Barton Malow’s new Orlando office in the Milk District. 

“Maybe another hundred years from now, we’ll be looking back…thinking we just got started,” added Keith Lowe, Director, Strategic Real Estate, AdventHealth. Lowe added that in addition to outpatient care and health parks, where multiple specialties are offered in a single location, healthcare will also be closer to consumers than it is today, and that means new construction. 

“How many of us have waited longer than we thought we should to get an appointment with our primary care physician?” Lowe asked, rhetorically. “We’re…changing the whole experience of (access) to the care that you need.” 

“That whole patient experience is now changing in pretty dramatic ways,” Lowe said, pointing to the June 2019 repeal of Florida’s Certificate of Need (CON), which, according to the National Law Review, removed barriers to build or expand “general hospitals, complex medical rehabilitation beds and tertiary hospital services” in Florida.  

That change in the law altered the landscape of how hospitals are going to grow in the future. The result was a “Wild West” proliferation of real estate assets that looked different than they did 20 years ago, according to Lowe. 

He said that health parks will help put 30,000 – 40,000 square foot health care facilities closer to the consumer than they have been in the past, with primary care, imaging, labs and all the ancillary services that consumers might need all in one place, with easy parking and other amenities like cafes and retail pharmacies. These changes, along with AdventHealth’s Well 65+ program, all play into the real estate strategy of where to put new healthcare facilities. 

Lowe mentioned two specific sites AdventHealth purchased, where it plans to make this vision a reality. First, it bought the site of the former Holy Land attraction and plans to put a medical office building and freestanding emergency department at that location as part of a Phase I redevelopment of the property, which is in a currently underserved part of Orlando, according to Lowe. 

“We saw a unique opportunity there…to do something really special,” Lowe added. 

The second site is in Minneola, southwest of Lake Apopka, where AdventHealth owns 30 acres and plans a similar facility to the former Holy Land site. 

These sites are among 250 projects AdventHealth has in its construction portfolio, at varying stages of completion, according to Bryan Emde, executive director, AdventHealth, a portfolio he estimates at $1.8 billion. These projects include: 

  • AdventHealth’s Innovation Tower downtown, a 275,000 square foot facility that includes brain health, orthopedic group an ambulatory surgical center and other support groups 
  • Winter Garden patient tower  
  • An 80-bed replacement hospital in Palm Coast 
  • Two offsite emergency departments – Flamingo Crossing and the facility mentioned earlier at the former Holy Land site 
  • New Health Parks in Oviedo and Lake Mary 
  • Several new hospital studios, smaller hospital facilities, with 80-160 beds 

Contractors, Closers & Connectors of Orlando is a non-profit focused on bringing together the local building and construction industry to raise money for its charitable partners. (Disclosure: CCC Orlando is a Moxē client). It raised $4,000 for the AdventHealth Foundation at the April event.