In the three months since Jackson Health System first proposed asking Miami-Dade voters to approve $830 million in upgrades to be paid entirely with taxpayer funds, proponents of the project have emphasized the public hospital network’s need to update its aging facilities and become more competitive with private and nonprofit hospitals in South Florida.
Jackson officials say the overhaul is necessary in a healthcare market facing rapid change under the Affordable Care Act, which will increase the number of Americans with health insurance and give them a choice of where to seek medical care.
Increasingly, Jackson officials say, insured patients have been choosing other hospitals with more modern facilities and medical equipment.
“Right now, there are still many people out there that say, ‘Jackson is an old hospital. It’s a public hospital. I don’t want to go there’,’’ said Carlos Migoya, chief executive. “We don’t have to look like the Taj Mahal, but we need to look like the academic center that we are.’’
Jackson is in a unique position among local teaching hospitals. Through its partnership with the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine, Jackson offers South Florida patients the widest array of highly specialized services — excelling in organ and bone marrow transplants, spinal and neurosurgery, neonatal intensive care, trauma medicine and other services.
But the hospital system needs more than a highly-regarded medical reputation to thrive. Jackson also needs to attract more patients seeking elective surgeries, such as a knee replacement, or other traditional services in order to offset the high cost of its mission to provide care to all county residents, particularly the uninsured.