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West Orange Times & Observer Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014 3 years ago

Health Central begins expansion of bed tower, emergency department

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by: Zak Kerr Staff Writer/Reporter

Health Central Hospital in Ocoee marked the beginning of its development of a bed tower and emergency department expansion with a groundbreaking Tuesday morning, Nov. 11.

The project will involve 68 new rooms in the emergency department and 40 bedrooms in a tower on the north side of the hospital, facing West Colonial Drive.

“We’re pulling out the wall of the existing emergency department to expand, about 50,000 square feet,” said Rick Smith, COO of Health Central. “The bed tower will have a 10-room addition over levels 2-5, about 32,000 square feet.”

Because the hospital currently has 18 semiprivate rooms and wants to privatize all rooms, the net gain will be 22 beds, he said.

The expansion became necessary as space became an issue in the hospital, said John Murphy, West Orange Healthcare District chairman of the board.

“The emergency department is operating at maximum capacity,” Murphy said. “The bed tower is expanding the maximum capacity of the overall hospital…improving a number of factors in the healthcare sector.”

The capacity issue stemmed from an increase in the hospital’s programming, said Greg Ohe, president of Health Central.

“We’re continuing services like programs in neurology, strep throat, surgery (and) ear, nose and throat,” Ohe said. “Each time, the community has said, ‘That’s great, but keep adding programs.’ We’re looking to add programs in cardiology and additional orthopedic and spine programs.”

Health Central has expanded before, including its emergency department, so it should occur without much disruption, Murphy said.

“It’s an integrated design,” he said. “The look of Health Central is unusual. It was planned for modular expansion. The expansion fits neatly on the site.”

The hospital will continue its 24/7 operations, including these departments, because of a plan that allows operation in tandem through a pair of phases to minimize disruption, Ohe said.

“It will be challenging on certain days, but we think we have a good plan with our contraction management company,” Ohe said. “The challenge for us is to complete one phase and then move back and complete the second phase. We will construct the new emergency department first, move into that, come back into the existing emergency department and make sure it matches construction. The bed tower construction will happen continuously through that timeframe.”

The construction firm for the project is Charles Perry Partners Inc., and the architects are from Rogers, Lovelock and Fritz, both local companies, he said. Construction will mostly occur during daylight hours on weekdays, with weekends remaining a possibility, he said. The construction should create 150 jobs, with 120 new permanent jobs expected for the hospital when the construction is complete, he said.

“It will create new jobs in nursing, respiratory therapy, physical therapy and various support positions, such as food service, pharmacy and maintenance,” Ohe said.

Ohe said the project should take about two years to finish, with the emergency department construction costing $25 million and the bed tower costing $18 million.

“Health Central, as part of Orlando Regional Healthcare System, has been a centerpiece of West Orange healthcare,” Murphy said. “We’re proud as citizens and a group to see it grow as it has. Our broadly stated mission is to enhance health and wellness in the district. The prime facility in the area is Health Central, so supporting them is one of the key ways we address that part of our mission statement.”

Contact Zak Kerr at [email protected].

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