MIAMI -

The Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday voted in support of a measure to call a special election so county voters can decide whether to approve $830 million in bonds for the Jackson Health System.

The 10-year program would allow Jackson to: make improvements on its operating rooms and emergency departments; renovate many of its inpatient units at Jackson Memorial Hospital, Jackson North Medical Center, and Jackson South Community Hospital; upgrade infrastructure, including elevators and air handles; and, purchase about $300 million in new medical equipment and other technologies.

"We have facilities there that aren't up to standard and they could be but for some more capital funds," said Miami-Dade Commissioner Sally Heyman. "We have world-class doctors at Jackson. We have world-class and so dedicated practitioners and staff at Jackson. We shouldn't have a third-world facility."

"On behalf of our stakeholders, I submit to you that Jackson cannot afford to continue to just stand still in this marketplace," added Public Health Trust Chairman Darryl Sharpton.

The plan also includes construction of new Jackson facilities, including a new rehabilitation hospital, a children's ambulatory center, and up to 10 urgent care centers.

“This is the first major step in allowing our community to invest in the future of its public health system,” Jackson Health System CEO Carlos Migoya said. “Jackson has a reputation for delivering medical excellence, now we must make it more attractive, more accessible and more competitive so that it can continue to thrive for the next generation.” 

The countywide special election is scheduled for November 5.

"I'm very concerned about telling the folks in this community -- that we've already told them we're going to raise their water rates, we've already discussed that we're basically going to make an investment in our animal services -- I think it's just a little too much," said Miami-Dade Commissioner Juan Zapata.