OCOEE — Plans for the expansion of Health Central Hospital remain what they were before crews began the current expansion.
But at the intersection of County Road 535 (Winter Garden-Vineland Road) and West Lake Butler Road — across the street from the main entrance to the Summerport community — Health Central purchased about 10.5 acres of land a couple of years ago to develop a medical office building, Administrator of Ancillary Services Lonnie Cahoon said.
“We bought the land with an office specifically in mind,” he said. “It’s a 60,000-square-foot two-story structure and pretty much what we have attached to the hospital here but standalone there. We have doctors in the community scattered, and they’ll be able to move in there to collaborate.”
Summerport Family Medicine, a family practice, will move in with three physicians, Cahoon said. Doctors Dieguez, Oloufa and Pagani, gynecologists, also will move in, with the possibility of adding another doctor to that team.
Cahoon said officials had been pulling permits and will start on construction as soon as permits are ready. He expects the project to be complete late next summer, around the time Health Central Hospital’s addition is scheduled to be done, he said.
As for Health Central Hospital, recent confusion regarding fictitious buildings on the site’s lane-use plan has given some the incorrect impression that officials of Ocoee or Orlando Health have any plans to expand beyond current construction, Health Central President Greg Ohe said.
Ocoee City Manager Robert Frank said Health Central officials have been controlling their development, and Ocoee officials have no knowledge of any Health Central plans beyond the current expansion project.
Still, the area has seen recent additions to health services, Ohe said.
“Over the last several years, we’ve added tertiary services to respond to community demand,” he said. “Today we are a primary stroke center. That’s critical because time is tissue. We’ve also instituted an interventional cardiac catheter program.”
Ohe also mentioned the hospital’s STEMI (ST-segment Elevation Myocardial Infarction), commonly referred to as a heart attack program.
“If you’re living in West Orange and have a heart attack, we can progress you to our cardiac catheter lab and open up the vessels in your heart,” he said. “Strokes are essentially the same type of interruption of blood flow to the brain as a heart attack to the heart. … We will continue meeting the needs of the community and growing our health care in that direction.”
Health Central’s cancer program has launched with the University of Florida Cancer Center, and an impella program is just starting, Ohe said.
“That’s a device that actually assists a failing heart with pumping blood to the lungs,” he said. “It’s a catheter-based technology. Think of it being half the size of your little finger. We’re introducing that technology now for people with weak and failing hearts.”
EKOS is another catheter technology the hospital will have, which involves removing clots threatening lungs, Ohe said. Work in vascular surgery, orthopedics and neurosurgery is also under enhancement, he said.
Completion of the bed tower expansion and emergency room construction will improve these functions, and Health Central will mark a milestone Sept. 3 with its topping-out ceremony, COO Rick Smith said. To prepare for that event, the ceremonial beam is in the atrium for the public to sign, he said.
“After the topping out ceremony and the exterior siding on the building, the public won’t see a lot going on,” Smith said. “It’d be on the inside of the building.”
New emergency department space should be complete in May or June, with 40 additional beds ready about a month thereafter, he said.
“Finally, we’ll drop back into the existing (emergency department) space and bring it up to date to match the new space,” Smith said. “Total completion is probably around the October 2016 timeframe.”
Ohe and Smith said parking has been the only true disruption from construction. Officials have rerouted many patients and visitors, but a free 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. valet parking service for the front and emergency department entrances has been a remedy and minimized disruption, Smith said.
“As construction continues, we’re developing an additional parking lot, as well,” Smith said. “It’s close to Blackwood Street. It will be about 62 to 64 parking spaces. That’ll begin probably in the next 90 days or so.”
Contact Zak Kerr at [email protected].