CLERMONT, Fla. – As Clermont and south Lake County continue to see growth in the area, a local hospital system is growing alongside it by building a new patient tower.
You can’t miss the sounds of construction happening right next door on Orlando Health South Lake Hospital’s campus.
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Inside the hospital, longtime volunteers Tonie DeFazio and Kay Tripp watch the growth happening.
“By leaps and bounds, yes. It kept growing and growing and they kept adding buildings all around,” DeFazio said.
DeFazio and Tripp started volunteering at the hospital in the late 1990s. They remember how small the facility was and the limited services it offered on site.
“Chemo and things like that that you take daily, they go into Orlando,” Tripp said.
They spent the last three decades witnessing how much growth was going on in the south Lake County area.
“You look out and where there were once pine trees, there (are) rooftops,” Tripp said.
According to data from the 2020 U.S. Census, 43,000 people live in Clermont, which is a 49% increase in population from a decade ago. As the community grows, South Lake Hospital President Lance Sewell said the hospital is growing with it.
“Really this is our hometown hospital and we’re really excited about it,” Sewell said.
The hospital broke ground and is laying the foundation for a new 95-bed patient tower. Sewell said inside the five-story building they will offer women’s services, an expanded ICU, and several medical-surgical nursing units.
“It will bring the state-of-the-art comfort and feel that you see at other Orlando Health facilities to our South Lake campus,” Sewell said.
He also said the new addition will provide more services closer to home for residents of south Lake County. Sewell said that could mean the difference between life and death.
“When you think about strokes, when you think about heart attacks, those minutes matter and really when we look at that, we want to make sure patients no longer have to wait 30 minutes to go downtown to get a CT scan or open-heart surgery or anything like that,” he said.
Even as the hospital expands, one thing DeFazio and Tripp said won’t change is the care each patient receives.
“It’s grown, but it’s still got small town Clermont, you feel it. You feel it. You really do,” Tripp said.
The new patient tower is expected to open in December 2023.