Health Central Hospital expansion set to open

Orlando Health is poised to open an expansion of Health Central Hospital, as well as begin planning a Horizon West hospital, a new skilled nursing facility and an expanded cancer center.

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  • | 4:34 p.m. July 7, 2016
  • West Orange Times & Observer
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Orlando Health is set to open an expansion of the Health Central Hospital, which will create more space and better conditions for patients at the hospital. 

Currently, the ER holds 42 emergency beds in semi-private spaces, separated by curtains. Patients and nursing staff are located in separate hallways, leaving patients out of the line of sight of their caregivers. 

The most critical portion of the emergency department is separated by curtains, creating a lack of privacy for patients and their families during critical moments.

“It’s just not a well-designed place for the patient needs of 2016, or probably anytime, for that matter,” Eric Wiepert, doctor of emergency medicine at Health Central Hospital, told reporters about the current hospital space. “It just doesn’t create a cohesive environment to treat patients; it doesn’t create an environment to where a nurse and a physician are really working collectively to see patients and to be available for patients.”

This is all about to change with the expansion of the hospital, which will add an expanded emergency department and patient bed tower. The expansion is scheduled to open Wednesday, July 13, after press time.  

The expansion will increase the size of the emergency department, jumping from 15,000 to 52,000 square feet. The emergency department layout is more open, with the nursing stations being central for the rooms it serves, allowing nurses a clear line of sight from the station to patients. The 62 emergency room beds allow each patient and family more privacy, as patients stay in individual rooms. 

The waiting room is built small, with the expectation of shorter wait times, if any, for patients. The layout of the emergency department is also designed for a workflow to accept more patients and staff during busy times. 

Three kiosks in the emergency department entryway are designed to be used as needed. During quieter times, one kiosk can be used to register patients. On busier times, all three will be used. 

The emergency department is now estimated to accommodate 90,000 visits per year, enabling the hospital to grow with the area, according to officials. Currently, the department receives less than 60,000 visits per year. 

The effects of the 40-room inpatient bed tower are also expected to help increase efficiency in the emergency department. 

“As we were having capacity issues not only in the emergency department but also upstairs on the inpatient side…if you can’t move admissions from your emergency department upstairs to an inpatient bed when admission is required, that means they sit in that emergency room exam area, and your emergency room is no longer 36 beds, but it’s 35, then it’s 34, then it’s 32,” said Greg Ohe, senior vice president of ambulatory at Orlando Health. “So all the sudden you don’t have the capacity you need to run the place.”

In total, Health Central Hospital will have 211 rooms. 


In summer 2017, construction will begin on a 100-bed skilled-nursing facility to help update facilities for Health Central Park, which is currently located in Winter Garden. The nursing facility will be on the campus of Health Central Hospital. 

Officials plan for the nursing home to be structured in a similar concept to the current Health Central Park, with several sections called “neighborhoods.”

The new skilled-nursing facility will have a 40-bed dementia unit, which is currently considered Health Central Park’s “gated community.”


Additionally, the UF Health Cancer Center will move its office across West Colonial Drive to the Health Central Hospital campus, nearly doubling its size to 30,000 square feet and offering expanded services, with the goal of enabling West Orange residents to receive cancer care in the community, without having to visit a downtown campus for care.  

At the new center, Daniel Buchholz, radiation oncology department chairman, plans to have a new technology — a ViewRay unit. Currently, there is only one ViewRay unit in the state of Florida. 

As patients are treated with radiation, the unit uses magnetic resonance imaging to watch the tumor.

“If the patient takes a big, deep breath and the tumor moves a little bit, we’d see it,” Buchholz said. “If the patient wiggles side to side, we’d see it. That’s amazing. That’s really going to cut down side effects for patients and improve the accuracy of our treatment, which hopefully will improve the outcomes…this is state-of-the-art and what I feel is the future of radiation oncology.”

The new center will also have TomoTherapy, an image-guided radiation therapy that is currently at the cancer center. With this technology, physicians could see an image of the patient before they received radiation treatment, to help improve precision. 

Both the cancer center and skilled-nursing facility are scheduled to be complete by the end of 2018. 


The Health Central Hospital Expansion is not the only plans Orlando Health has for the West Orange area. 

A 16-bed hospital is in the pipeline for Horizon West, with construction scheduled to start this November, with completion in February 2018.

Phase one of the project includes a two-story, 70,000-square-foot building, the first floor being a 16-bed emergency department and the second floor an outpatient diagnostics department and physician offices.

“We have designs for not just being a hospital campus out in Horizon West, we are looking to be  a health campus,” Ohe said. “We are looking to partner with folks long term to improve the health and wellness of this community.” 

Ultimately, the hospital could help bring healthcare jobs to the Horizon West community, officials said. 

“This is really exciting for me, and I know everyone in the community, because it’s really our first opportunity to bring jobs into the area other than just retail, other than commercial — which are all very important,” said S. Scott Boyd, District 1 Orange County Commissioner. “I’ve noticed even in Fowler Groves, with the new hospital that’s taking place and the infrastructure that is there, you’re seeing new faces, new people and medical folks that are all in the area, so this is going to be good for us.” 

Orlando Health has about 80 acres of land, which sits along the south side of Porter Road, with access from State Road 429 via New Independence Parkway.  The building is designed to be able to expand upon as the Horizon West — and South Lake County — community grows. 

The emergency department is designed with a direct line of access from nurses to patients. 


Contact Jennifer Nesslar at [email protected]