As Orlando Health’s Horizon West ER passes this milestone, the new COO is preparing for the campus’ growth in the coming years.
Orlando Health opened a free-standing emergency room and medical pavilion in the growing community of Horizon West in September 2018. Just 18 months later, the facility on Porter Road in Winter Garden has celebrated the treatment of its 10,000th patient.
Drs. John Cheesebrew and Christen Gregory treated the patient, Jessica Sexton, a 31-year-old Windermere resident, for an undisclosed medical issue.
Dr. Whitner Davis, chief of staff and an Emergency Department doctor, said the high volume of patients he and the staff have been able to treat in 18 months speaks to the community’s confidence in the facility.
“I think that it shows that Orlando Health has seen the impending growth of West Orange County and has provided a health care structure that is able to care for that growing population,” Davis said. “We expect to see a lot more growth in that area, and with the hospital coming online … we can meet all the health care needs of that area.”
A third-generation Central Floridian, Davis said he recalls driving west and seeing nothing but orange groves. Now, he’s working in an emergency facility built on those same grounds.
“We hopefully can get ahead of the growth,” he said.
Davis was working at the Orlando Health - Health Central campus prior to this facility opening and currently is working shifts at both locations.
“We’re so excited to have reached that milestone of 10,000,” said Brian Wetzel, assistant vice president of Orlando Health and chief operating officer of Orlando Health Horizon West Hospital. “That’s 10,000 visits to that ER department that didn’t require the community out there to drive a distance that made them uncomfortable.”
As newly appointed COO, Wetzel is responsible for supporting the team at the new Emergency Department and medical office. The Orlando Health campus also will include a 103-bed, six-story hospital now under construction and expected to open early next year. In his position, Wetzel will support the hospital, as well.
While the hospital is being built, Wetzel — who has been with Orlando Health for nearly 25 years — has been busy developing staffing plans.
“We’ve got a lot of staffing matrices to make sure we’re planning well enough ahead so we have our team of equal and competent individuals ready,” he said. “We’re talking about posting positions. … Long lead times are necessary to find the highly skilled folks to service the very best medical care.”
This is not the first construction project in which Wetzel has been involved. He oversaw the expansion of Orlando Health’s Dr. P. Phillips Hospital and the renovation and redesign of Orlando Health’s Orlando Regional Medical Center.
He was COO of Orlando Health UF Health Cancer Center beginning in 2016 and was responsible for developing, leading and implementing the cancer center’s operational direction.
Orlando Health continues to grow as the community itself grows.
“What we’re planning on is providing access to the high-quality care that Orlando Health provides as conveniently as possible to that community,” Wetzel said of Horizon West. “We’ll be focusing on what most often we are seeing after (18) months in the ER department; we will be offering the basic medical services, orthopedic services, gastro services, gastrointestinal services.”
But this is a community hospital, and not all services can be provided there, Wetzel explained. As different medical needs show up in the ER, staff can evaluate whether these services should be added on a permanent basis.
Specialized needs will be directed to other hospitals within the Orlando Health system.
“For pediatrics, if we can’t provide, we have Arnold Palmer Hospital,” he said. “We won’t be providing (obstetric) services initially; we’ve got the support of Winnie Palmer behind us. Any of the more complex things, like neuro … we’ve got the support of Orlando Health ORMC behind us.
“We’re planning as comprehensively as we can … to provide for the needs of the people right there in Horizon West,” he said.