Oct. 13--NORTH PORT -- After a bit of soul searching and a talk with City Manager Peter Lear, the North Port Medical Hospital Task Force will look to refocus its mission beyond choosing between two companies interested in bringing a hospital to the city.
Lear explained that the City Commission wants the task force's thoughts on presentations from Universal Health Services and Health Care Facilities Partners but doesn't want the panel to pick one over the other.
Task force chairman Nicholas Worden and other members will give that report to the City Commission Nov. 2.
"What you guys saw at the last meeting, they have not seen," Lear said, referring to city commissioners, while noting that the two Sept. 28 presentations were different from what representatives of both companies told the commission in the summer. "What they want is your evaluation of the two proposals, not to pick one over the other."
"They want you guys to have opinions, to have ideas," he later added. "We're trying to support a hospital in North Port.
"We're trying to get the entire community to say, 'Give us a hospital.'"
During public comment, former city commissioner Jim Blucher told the task force that it should urge the commission to hear presentations by both Universal Health Services and Health Care Facilities Partners. Fellow former city commissioner Fred Tower later added that he expects the Universal Health Services application for state approval for a hospital to be met with challenges.
"Be creative when you go on there; you don't represent the commissioners, you represent the citizens," Tower said.
The task force is set to meet on Oct. 26.
The task force could help tell city residents about the importance of sending the state Agency for Health Care Administration letters of support for any North Port hospital application, possibly through an information table at a Halloween event at City Hall on Oct. 27. The board also discussed the possibility of going door-to-door to gather signatures from residents to indicate their support, though not all members were enthusiastic about that prospect.
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