Aerial photography by Ben Johnson

As the healthcare industry evolves, having reliable access to facilities, supplies, and treatment continues to be a universal topic and concern. Our city is rising to meet these challenges for Lakeland residents by expanding existing services and inviting investment for new endeavors and facilities.

With the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic (aka the coronavirus), the state of the quality of healthcare was pushed to the forefront even more than usual. This certainly holds true for Lakeland. Its progression is going strong with recent renovations to major healthcare facilities, making it a reliable source to meet the needs and anxieties of the growing industry.

“Everyone needs healthcare,” says Ashley Cheek, VP of Business Development at the Lakeland Economic Development Council (LEDC). “For years we’ve been able to attract the medical industry, whether it’s factory, distribution, or even just healthcare, with the recent expansions of Lakeland Regional and Watson Clinic.”

In November, Lakeland Regional announced its plan to build its $46 million Center for Behavioral Health and Wellness. It also broke ground on the expansion of its cancer center in 2015. Watson Clinic’s newest center, Watson Clinic Urgent Care South, opened its doors in January.

Cheek says developments like these help serve the people of Lakeland and those in its surrounding cities, which could be a greater number than most think.

“Because of where we’re located in the state, we have 10.1 million people within a 100-mile radius. We have more than 200 companies in the medical healthcare and biotech industry, and more than 20,000 employees in the industries — that’s including the hospital and all of the healthcare and medical-related companies.”

From Cardinal Health and Eagle Pharmacy to the Center for Retina Macular Disease, several medical companies have come to Lakeland for the long haul. Medical-device packaging and sterilization; and life sciences, biotech, pharmaceuticals are two of the targeted industries that Cheek says the LEDC hopes to help expand in Lakeland and Polk County.

Cheek notes that medical businesses like WellDyne, a prescription management company, help sustain and grow the city’s economy by paying its workers well and being featuring high-end technology.

“A lot of these companies are kind of hidden, and people might not know that they’re here. Having access to so many people from the state of Florida from our location is a big driver for healthcare companies to move to this area in order to be closer to their clients.”

The advancement of healthcare and medical supplies provided in Lakeland is just beginning. Along with improvements to Watson Clinic and Lakeland Regional, there has been a noticeable boost in medical devices, packaging, and sterilization services (such as Stryker, Steripack, Sterigenics, MESM, and Advanced Concept Innovations).

“Central Florida will continue to be a hot spot for the industry. I think we’ll continue to see the medical industry grow, whether it’s biotech, pharmaceutical, life science, medical manufacturing, medical logistics,” says Cheek. “I think they all work together, and they all have to kind of be close together.”

With growing companies come employees who may or may not already call Lakeland home.

“From an economic development perspective, when we’re trying to recruit companies here, we’re also trying to recruit people, such as executives who work for those companies.”

Cheek adds that the goal is for healthcare workers, and even those who are searching for quality healthcare, to become attracted to a city like Lakeland, with the hopes of getting access to premier healthcare facilities.

“Healthcare is a very pivotal piece to our quality of life. When people move to a community, they want to have access to quality healthcare. With the hospitals and everything expanding, I think that will be a big driver to recruit people here.”

Featured Healthcare Facilities:

Watson Clinic Highlands

Watson Clinic Highlands is a nearly 74,000-square foot, two-story medical facility that offers a variety of services including, but not limited to, family medicine, dermatology, facial plastic surgery, gastroenterology, general surgery, obstetrics – gynecology, orthopaedic surgery / sports medicine, pediatric, psychiatry, and physical therapy. Additionally, the facility includes an on-site laboratory and a Nurse Clinic. Patients and non-patients alike can receive walk-in care without an appointment from the Watson Clinic XpressCare at Highlands offices.
2300 E. County Road 540A
Lakeland, FL 33813

ER 24/7

Brandon Regional Hospital’s 24/7 ER is staffed by a team of highly skilled physicians and nurses who treat medical emergencies for patients of every age. ER 24/7 handles everything from heart attacks to orthopedic injuries, to stroke treatments, pediatrics, and more.
3526 S. Florida Avenue
Lakeland, FL 33803

Johns Hopkins All Children’s Outpatient Care

Johns Hopkins All Children’s meets the medical and rehabilitative needs of children of all ages, from infants through teens. They work together with community physicians to provide family-centered care, making parents an important part of the healthcare team.
3310 Lakeland Hills Boulevard Lakeland, FL 33805

Bond Clinic

photo courtesy of The Lunz Group

Bond Clinic, P.A. is one of the first businesses established in Winter Haven. Founded in 1948 by Dr. Benjamin Bond, the clinic has grown throughout the years from four doctors to more than 90 providers, encompassing 28 specialties. Bond Clinic’s mission is to deliver high-quality healthcare in a compassionate, ethical, and efficient manner.
325 1st Street N
Winter Haven, FL 33881

Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center

Lakeland Regional Health has provided more than a century of service to Lakeland and all communities across Central Florida, with over 550 medical staff. LRH Medical Center is the only hospital in Polk County to offer three hybrid operating rooms and a hybrid catheterization lab. Lakeland Regional Health’s physicians practice in more than 25 specialties.
1324 Lakeland Hills Boulevard Lakeland, FL 33805