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Fishermen's Community Hospital Opens New Medical Arts Building

Baptist Health Fishermen’s Community Hospital

A new era is dawning on healthcare in the Middle Keys with the opening of the Walsh Family Medical Arts Building at Baptist Health Fishermen’s Community Hospital. The long-anticipated facility will expand access to chemotherapy infusion for cancer patients and centralize primary care, physical therapy and rehabilitation, and specialty services in one location adjacent to the hospital.


This is not just a building,” says Drew Grossman, CEO of Fishermen’s in Marathon and Baptist Health Mariners Hospital in Tavernier. It helps elevate Fishermen’s as a one-stop, all-inclusive medical and wellness campus. Everyone in this area, whether they live here or are visiting, will know exactly where to go for healthcare.”


(Watch now: A new era is dawning on healthcare in the Middle Keys with the opening of the Walsh Family Medical Arts Building at Baptist Health Fishermen’s Community Hospital. Video by Gort Productions.)


Built on land that was once home to Marathon’s public library, the new structure was named in honor of the Walsh family following a $5 million donation to Baptist Health Foundation from family-owned Ocean Properties, the largest hotel owner and operator in Florida and one of the largest employers in the Florida Keys. Another $1.5 million was provided through donor philanthropy, covering more than half the cost to build the facility. The building took about a year to complete and was officially dedicated with a ribbon-cutting on April 3.


“This building makes accessing care more convenient for patients, and it makes us more efficient and effective,” Mr. Grossman says. “We are here to serve the community’s needs, whether it’s primary care, specialty services like orthopedics, gastroenterology or general surgery, all our infusion therapies, and rehab service.”


Expanded Cancer Care

The hurricane-resistant Walsh Family Medical Arts Building will expand the hospital’s three oncology infusion rooms to five, adding a lab and opening up more space. As the southernmost branch of Miami Cancer Institute, part of Baptist Health Cancer Care, the hospital began providing infusion services in 2022 and has hundreds of patients. The demand for treatment grew exponentially, however, when an unrelated oncology center that served the Lower Keys closed abruptly last year in Key West.


“There are no other chemotherapy facilities in the Keys other than at Fishermen’s and Mariners, so it’s great to be able to increase how many patients we can see per day,” says Rosie Sanchez, R.N., director of the oncology infusion centers at both hospitals. “Oncology is a huge need, and there are a lot of promising treatments. We’re glad to provide that here, without patients having to travel two and three hours when they’re already feeling bad.”


Miami Cancer Institute has worked hard to provide as seamless an experience as possible for Keys patients, often using telehealth visits with physicians to spare established patients a long drive to the mainland, Ms. Sanchez says.


“Many times our nurse practitioner can take care of whatever needs they have,” she says. “Any cancer that requires chemotherapy infusion, we can give it here. We also do a lot of biotherapy treatments and provide supportive care for the patients. If their labs are out of balance, we replace their potassium or electrolytes and we hydrate them to keep them out of the Emergency Department and make it possible for them to continue their treatments.”


Convenience in Care

The Walsh Family Medical Arts Building also will provide a new home for primary care provided by Baptist Health Medical Group, which in the past had offices down the road from the hospital.


“This is an updated, brand new building, plus it’s going to be very nice in terms of the proximity to the hospital,” says Kathleen Filiaggi, M.D., an internist in the Marathon primacy care office. “If patients need to do any tests, any labs, it will most definitely make it much more convenient for them.”


Kathleen Filiaggi Headshot

Kathleen Filiaggi, M.D.internal medicine physician and hospitalist at Baptist Health Fishermen's Community Hospital in Marathon


Distance really does matter — and has the potential to improve care, especially in acute cases, Dr. Filiaggi says.


“If there’s a situation where a patient presents in the clinic and we need to have something done immediately, it’s just right across the parking lot. They can go right over to the hospital and have certain imaging or tests,” Dr Filiaggi says. “For example, if there’s a high concern that somebody might have a blood clot, it’s an easy phone call for us to get them to the hospital and have the imaging done as soon as possible.”


The Walsh Family Medical Arts Building has the potential to improve care in another way, as well, by providing a central location for additional doctors and specialists who might otherwise have a difficulty finding space in the Keys, Dr. Filiaggi says.


“There aren’t as many specialty support services here as there are on the mainland, but Baptist Health is continually working to bring more down here to the Florida Keys,” she explains. “Having this new building will help attract and retain specialists in areas like cardiology, gastroenterology, hematology, oncology.”


Dr. Filiaggi, who has two decades of experience in primary care, relocated her practice to the Keys from Pittsburgh about a year ago after she walked into Fishermen’s to check it out while on vacation. Impressed, she was later recruited by Mr. Grossman. Moving to the Keys and contributing in a significant way to the community has been a dream come true, she says.


“The people are lovely and they are very appreciative of the care that we provide,” Dr. Filiaggi says. “There’s a need for healthcare down here — one of the main reasons people leave the Keys is for healthcare. Baptist Health is working to expand services and make more complete healthcare available.”


Bringing It All Together

The Walsh Family Medical Arts Building also will allow the relocation and consolidation of physical therapy and rehabilitation services, which were offered at an off-site location.


We do a multitude of treatments. We do orthopedics, post-operative rehab, stroke rehab, we do balance and gait training, we provide hand therapy through occupational therapy, and therapy for swallow disorders and speech and language disorders. We also provide lymphedema treatments,” says Jack Butler, director of physical therapy and rehabilitation. “We provide both inpatient and outpatient services.”


Being on the same campus as the hospital allows his staff to function more efficiently, he says.


“It helps us with the continuum of care as far as rehabilitation services are concerned,” he explains. “It also makes it much more convenient for our patients. They can go see their physicians, they can get physical therapy, and they can organize all that in one area. If they need X-rays, an MRI, if they need lab work — everything is at one central location.”


The opening of the new building is significant from a practical standpoint, but also because of what it represents, Mr. Butler says.


“This building says, ‘Look, we’re here to stay,’ but also, ‘We’re here to improve the care for the community.’ It shows a commitment to providing a high standard of care in the Florida Keys,” he says.


Pillar of the Community

Fishermen’s Community Hospital has been caring for the Florida Keys community since 1962. The hospital was closed temporarily following devastation by Hurricane Irma in 2017. A field hospital was quickly opened to provide uninterrupted care to the community despite extraordinarily difficult conditions.


After being destroyed by Hurricane Irma in 2017, Fishermen's Community Hospital welcomed the first patients to its new, state-of-the-art facility in 2021


The field hospital was later replaced with a modular facility until a brand-new 37,330-square-foot hospital could be constructed on the original facility’s foundation. With the community’s philanthropic support, the new state-of-the-art hospital opened in the summer of 2021.


The $5 million Baptist Health invested in the medical arts building to cover the remainder of the building costs is a testament to the organization’s commitment to the residents and visitors of the Florida Keys, Mr. Grossman notes.


“Obviously, we provide the highest quality care. Being part of the Baptist Health ensures that,” Mr. Grossman says. “But it’s also about the patient experience — making sure patients have a smooth, efficient process from the time of registration, to being seen, and then any follow-ups that they may need. We’re always trying to invest and improve.”

Healthcare that Cares

With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

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