Healthcare Expansion Continues to Play an Important Role in Local Economy

The healthcare sector in St. Johns County continues to experience strong growth.  Ascension St. Vincent’s Hospital opened its new 56-bed facility in July and already has plans to add an additional wing in the near future.  The 115-million-dollar facility will add 600 jobs to the county.  “Our significant investment in this wonderful community is rooted in our desire to continue creating new options for St. Johns County residents to get the care they need, with the highest quality and compassion available, right here at home, right when they need us,” said Ascension Florida and Gulf Coast President and CEO Tom VanOsdol.

Flagler Health+ broke ground on a new medical complex at Durbin Park in June 2021.  The 42.5-acre campus will feature a Flagler Health+ Village to incorporate a variety of services like urgent care, imaging, specialty care, family medicine, and others.  There is additional land for a future hospital and surgical center.

The Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of St. Augustine opened in March of 2022.  This facility will serve as a 40-bed inpatient rehabilitation facility. The hospital will serve patients recovering from serious injury or illness such as strokes, amputations, and brain and spine injuries, Hall said. The staff will care for patients who leave an acute care hospital but aren’t ready to return home yet. 

Borland Groover opened its St. Augustine Endoscopy Center in February of 2022. “The new facility is equipped with the most advanced technology and equipment available to ensure our patients have even more access to the best comprehensive, cutting-edge medical care,” Dr. Kyle Etzkorn, CEO of Borland Groover, said in the press release.

Baptist Health also has plans to continue its expansion into St. Johns County and has acquired land off Interstate 95 and Highway 207 for a new medical complex.  All of these expansions are the result of increased population and demand.  They are a welcomed addition to the region and local economy.

Flagler Health+ was recognized by the St. Johns Board of County Commissioners during its Nov. 15 meeting as part of National Apprenticeship Week. Flagler Health+ was specifically recognized for its Surgical Technologists Apprenticeship Program.

The program is hospital-based training that includes classroom and practical clinical instruction designed to prepare participants for a career as a Surgical Technologist with Flagler Health+ upon completion. 

Donna Wagner, Chief Nursing Officer, represented Flagler Health+ in receiving the proclamation, with Michelle Bejo, Angelo Guerrero, and the six apprentices: Andrea Moore, Blair Burgos, Cori Kirker, Meera Patel, Michelle Vera, and Nathan Raymond. They were joined by Doreen Lund, an apprentice navigator for CareerSource, who assisted Flagler Health+ in establishing the program.

Originally inspired by the JAX Bridges program (, the Pitch Factory entrepreneurial education course seeks to help St. Johns County entrepreneurs elevate their businesses through an intensive training program designed to assist with developing and refining the entrepreneur’s value proposition. Entrepreneurial education modules focus on the value proposition, business model, capability statement, and honing the pitch.  Class discussion topics include understanding basic financial concepts, crafting a business model, marketing, and the various types of pitches.