AdventHealth: One Year Towards Creating A Healthier Community
by Kevin Kieft, President/CEO Lake Wales Chamber of Commerce
Healthcare access is one of the most crucial aspects of building and maintaining a healthy and prosperous community. If you get sick, you want doctors you can visit. If you get hurt, you want a hospital to go to. You don’t want to drive more than an hour to receive the healthcare you need. You want hospitals and other healthcare providers close to where you live.
I have been involved in economic development or community development in various forms since 2001. I know from experience that hospitals and other healthcare providers, especially in a small town, are extremely important. A common denominator I’ve seen across all economic development boards and programs are healthcare providers having a seat at the table.
Businesses, especially potential businesses, want communities with easy access to quality healthcare. They want workers and customers who are healthy. As such, healthcare amenities are a crucial checkmark on the list of things they expect from a community. They will not locate communities that don’t have those amenities. If you don’t fill that box, you simply do not make the short list for most projects.
For this reason, we are thankful to AdventHealth for arriving in East Polk County one year ago and helping to provide our local community with the high-quality healthcare our residents need and they should expect. Because of them, Lake Wales is a healthier, happier place to live, work, and start a business.
For nearly 50 years, AdventHealth has been fulfilling its mission of “Extending the Healing Ministry of Christ” by serving as the largest not-for-profit Protestant health care provider in Florida. We are glad that they have decided to make Lake Wales their newest home, and that they have brought their holistic approach to healthcare to our community.
As a Christian-based organization, they believe in providing for both the body and the soul. Their approach toward medicine ensures that patients have both their symptoms and their problems alleviated. Such an approach has allowed them to thrive in other cities and states, and it will continue to allow them to thrive here in Lake Wales and East Polk County.
Over the past year, they have helped transform our local hospital into a true healthcare powerhouse. They are committed to continuing to bring in new primary care doctors and specialists, and looking at ways to create new amenities such as the Wound Care Clinic. They have also done so by investing money in the hospital directly by upgrading everything inclduing beds, network systems, and medical technology equipment. Having them here in our community has been nothing more than a great advantage for both healthcare and economic development.
They have also helped inform the local community about their healthcare needs. Many of their specialists have hosted virtual lectures and meetings via Zoom to help inform viewers about health issues such as diabetes control and especially about the current COVID-19 crisis.
We know they have especially been experiencing hard times with the pandemic. They have been working hard to not only care for people who may have potentially contracted the virus, but also ensure that their facilities are the upmost cleanest to prevent the spread. These are hard and uncertain times, and through it all, they have shined brightest.
We see theirs as a good partnership moving forward. We hope to see them continuing to invest in the community. They are a large employer, helping create new jobs not only for themselves, but also for other potential businesses. As such, they are an extremely valuable partner with economic development and we fully expect them to continue to be.
Overall, we want to thank AdventHealth for everything they have done to make our community a happy and healthier place to live, especially in these hard times. Thank you for our healthcare professionals and providers. We stand behind them and owe them our very heartfelt appreciations for all they do for us and the region.