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West Orange Times & Observer Friday, Apr. 27, 2018 1 year ago

Winter Garden commission hears update, challenges of Florida Hospital

Florida Hospital CEO Tim Cook discussed updates and recent challenges faced by Florida Hospital.
by: Eric Gutierrez Staff Writer

WINTER GARDEN — Florida Hospital CEO Tim Cook discussed services, challenges as well as what’s in store for the hospital’s Winter Garden location at the Winter Garden commission meeting April 26.

Cook, who represents Florida Hospital at Altamonte, Apopka and Winter Garden, delivered a presentation at the meeting to update the commission about Florida Hospital. One of the matters he discussed involved helicopter flights over Winter Garden.

City Manager Mike Bollhoefer said the city occasionally has experienced issues with helicopters not following an agreed-upon flight path over Winter Garden.

“When we approved the Florida Hospital, they agreed to have their helicopters fly a certain route — which generally bypasses the neighborhoods,” Bollhoefer said. “Over the past two years, we’ve had a few helicopters not follow those routes and actually fly over the neighborhoods. And our job is to correct that and ensure they don’t.”

Cook explained some of the causes of the issue and discussed a four-point plan on how to address it.

“We found that some pilots are new and they haven’t managed the new flight path, but we also found that seasoned pilots still didn’t follow the flight path,” Cook said.“We’re still investigating that. There’s really a four-point plan we’re working on (to address the issue) starting this month.”

The first point in the plan involves ensuring the multiple flight-service providers Florida Hospital uses are educated about the flight path over Winter Garden that helicopters are required to follow.

“I think in our naivety, we thought if we educate the multiple flight-service providers with the new flight path, then that’s all we’d have to do and we’d be done,” Cook said. “What we’re learning is we’re going to have to do that over and over and intentionally be proactive about it because I think it gets a little out of sight, out of mind because the helicopter traffic (here) isn’t as prominent as it is in some other places. … We’ve got the initial feedback from the aviation companies that they will work with us on that.”

The second point is to work with dispatchers to remind aviation service providers of the flight path helicopter pilots must take over Winter Garden, Cook said.

“When they dispatch a helicopter, they (dispatchers) are going to remind the provider — whichever one it is — of the Winter Garden flight path because we think that little proactive reminder may help create a little more compliance,” Cook said.

Thirdly, Florida Hospital will implement a more aggressive follow-up plan pertaining to helicopters that fly off the required path.

“Sometimes, you’re knowing about an off-flight path before we know,” Cook said. “We need to know that before you all do. We need to have evidence and our security people log that that it was off flight path (and) let the city know whats happening and they know what we’re doing about it.”

The final point in the plan involves gathering data of flights straying away from the required path and meeting with flight-service providers to discuss the data.

“Fourth is truly collecting and trending the data and meeting with flight companies on a regular basis,” Cook said. “Because it’s not the consistent company all the time, there’s some variation, and we’re just going to have to manage that differently. If we track and trend and meet with them on a quarterly basis, we can identify the times and dates when the flights were off and we can actually begin to put a little pressure on them to comply.”

In addition to discussing challenges, Cook also updated commissioners on what’s in the works for the Florida Hospital at Winter Garden.

“We’ll expand cardiology, general surgery, urology; we’ll have an ENT (Ear, Nose, Throat) practice that’s slated to go in there toward the end of the year,” Cook said. “As the year ends and as we go into next year, we anticipate starting a medical oncology practice there with infusion, which would be a great service to the community for those dealing with cancer because it will be right there. … We’re also going to expand the primary care services in the building as well as rehab.”


Eric Gutierrez is a staff writer with the West Orange Times & Observer and Windermere Observer. He graduatedĀ from the University of Central Florida in 2015 with a dual degree in Journalism and Political Science. Got a story idea? Contact Eric at...

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