PALMETTO, Fla. (WFLA) — Officials celebrated the groundbreaking of a big project planned for the City of Palmetto Tuesday.

HCA Florida Blake Hospital is expanding its footprint into northern Manatee County, building an 11,000 sq. ft. free-standing emergency department off U.S. Highway 301 in Palmetto.

The facility will offer 24/7 care as well as advanced imaging in its 11 exam rooms. HCA Florida Palmetto Emergency is slated to serve around 10,000 patients in its first year alone.

It will be the first emergency care department north of the Manatee River in Manatee County.

Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant says she’s thrilled for what this means for the Palmetto community.

“It is a tremendous need here. We have some great physicians in the city, we have some great services here, but it is not in the depth that it needs to be for the community. We see a lot of growth in the city, and we want to be prepared for that. We don’t wanna be behind the curve,” said Mayor Groover Bryant.

Right now, residents in Palmetto, Ellenton, and Parrish must travel over a bridge to get emergency care within the county.

“To travel, especially during season, especially when traffic is challenging, it can be 25+ minutes to get to our hospital. I think this is going to allow our emergency responders a place where they can deliver patients and we can care for them timely in their community that we will be serving,” said HCA Blake CEO Steve Young. “I think this has been long overdue. This community has been growing and thriving for a long time.”

The facility is expected to open to the public in the summer of 2024.