Fishermen's Community Hospital, Baptist Health Foundation, Baptist Health South Florida

Marathon Residents, Steve and Sheila Cook, Host Kickoff Campaign To Rebuild Fishermen’s Community Hospital

March 6, 2018

Marathon, Fla. – March 6, 2018 – Baptist Health South Florida – the region’s largest not-for-profit healthcare organization – announced on February 5 plans to design and build an entirely new Fishermen’s Community Hospital in Marathon. And only five days later, area residents rallied at an intimate event to support and promote the healthcare organization’s campaign to raise $15 million in philanthropic commitments toward the total project cost of $40 million.

Marathon residents Steve and Sheila Cook, owners of the local Art Studio emporium, hosted a fundraising campaign kickoff on Feb. 10 at their home – lovingly named “The Bait Shack” – located on a lush five-acre property that once was a botanical nursery.

“We are here today because we believe in our community of Marathon,” said the Cooks. “We believe in its future. We believe in our residents. We believe we will recover from Hurricane Irma. We believe we will rebuild better than ever. We believe we can overcome any challenges we face. We believe we deserve the best healthcare. And we can build a new Fishermen’s Community Hospital.”

The Cooks passionate support of the community and of the vital importance of a new Fishermen’s Community Hospital was echoed by Mariners Hospital and Fishermen’s Community Hospital CEO, Rick Freeburg, who recalled Baptist Health’s quick response in bringing a field hospital to Marathon in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, and the organization’s commitment to replace the field hospital with a $3-million modular facility until an entirely new critical access hospital is built.

“Baptist Health continues to invest heavily in Marathon and is 100 percent committed to this community,” said Freeburg. “We have the opportunity to make a real difference in the Middle Keys. It’s an incredibly exciting time, and while it’s a major undertaking, with the community’s support, we can make it happen.”

Among the other influential leaders addressing the invitees were Mike Leonard, chairman of the Fishermen’s Hospital Council of Baptist Health Foundation; Fishermen’s Community Hospital Campaign Co-chairs Bob Belcaster and Jim Rifkin; and Mariners Hospital and Fishermen’s Community Hospital Chairman Jay Hershoff.

Rounding out the event was remarks from Baptist Health’s Executive VP and COO Bo Boulenger, who introduced the evening’s special guest, Jon Landau, renowned producer of the Academy Award-winning Titanic, the Avatar film series and Dick Tracy, among other major motion pictures. Landau also serves as a member of the Board of Baptist Health Foundation. He articulated why a hospital is so vitally important to the Middle Keys and why Baptist Health is the ideal partner to build “the new island hospital that this community needs and deserves.”

Individuals interested in making a difference through the “Our Community, Your Hospital” campaign are encouraged to contact Wendy Reilly Gentes,, or Kim E. Gregory,, or call the Baptist Health Foundation offices at 786-467-5400.

About Baptist Health South Florida
Baptist Health South Florida is the largest healthcare organization in the region, with 10 hospitals (Baptist Hospital, Baptist Children’s Hospital, Bethesda Hospital East, Bethesda Hospital West, Doctors Hospital, Fishermen’s Community Hospital, Homestead Hospital, Mariners Hospital, South Miami Hospital and West Kendall Baptist Hospital), more than 40 physician practices, 50 outpatient and urgent care facilities, Baptist Health Medical Group, Baptist Health Quality Network and internationally renowned centers of excellence spanning across Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. A not-for-profit organization supported by philanthropy and committed to our faith-based charitable mission of medical excellence, Baptist Health has approximately 18,500 employees and more than 3,000 affiliated physicians. Baptist Health South Florida has been recognized by Fortune as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For in America and by Ethisphere as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies. For more information, visit and connect with us on Facebook at and on Twitter and Instagram @BaptistHealthSF.

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