FORECAST: Orlando Health Horizon West Hospital ready for debut

The new Orlando Health Horizon West Hospital will open its doors Jan. 30 and offer its services to a growing community in Southwest Orange County.

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  • | 12:24 p.m. January 6, 2021
  • Southwest Orange
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Walking around an empty second floor, Brian Wetzel basks in the shiny sheen of the new Orlando Health Horizon West Hospital he oversees.

It’s Friday, Dec. 11, and Wetzel, who serves as the hospital’s chief operation officer, gleefully goes from floor to floor to point out all of the hospital’s operations and what the new facility will offer to its future patients.

The hospital has been a long time in the making, and on Saturday, Jan. 30, it will make its grand debut.

“I’d be lying if there wasn’t some anxiousness,” Wetzel said. “But to that point, we have got the great benefit of having the entire month of January — now that all of our inspections are complete and the building has been turned over to us — we’ve got plans in place that allow us to get the team who are going to be supporting Horizon West Hospital and its patients in the building the entire month.

“Imagine the nursing teams, the respiratory teams … in this building the month of January running mock drills, running different patient scenarios,” he said. “We have that entire month of January to make certain come Jan. 30 that everybody who works in the facility knows where to find what it is that they need to find.”


For the past two years, the Orlando Health Emergency Department in Horizon West has served the community’s urgent health care needs, and now that the hospital is joining it, the complete vision finally will be realized.

“The Horizon West Emergency Department team have given us a legacy to build on for when we get the hospital open,” Wetzel said. “We’re going to continue with that trend of making certain that patients, when they come to us here at Horizon West Hospital, they leave feeling like they don’t want to go anywhere else for their care.”

The hospital and emergency department are located on a 40-acre parcel on Porter Road — just off Avalon Road — and the hospital itself spans a total of 214,000 square feet over six stories. It will have a capacity of 120 patient beds.

On opening day, only the first three floors will be operational — with the third floor acting as the inpatient floor with 30 beds. The facility will start by offering the fundamental procedures and options that any hospital would. When the hospital is in need of expansion to the fourth floor, the third floor will become the hospital’s ICU. Currently, the fourth floor is built out and furnished but hasn’t yet been equipped.

“What that allows us to do is, as we grow and volume warrants us expanding to the fourth floor, it’s really — at that point — a matter of weeks to get the fourth floor operational as opposed to months had we not built it out and furnished it the way we had,” Wetzel said. “The fifth and sixth floor are shelled floors — we haven’t done anything with those yet. They’re bare concrete at this point, but obviously, the vision is for us to grow and complete those floors as needed so we’ll have an entire facility.”

As you enter the first floor — the lobby area — you’re met with a facility filled with natural light that pours through the large glass panes on the front of the building. There is the reception area and just next to it is a space for pre-admission testing.

The first floor also is home to the chapel, administrative offices, a conference space, gift shop and cafeteria/food services area. Wetzel said the hospital hopes local organizations — whether that be businesses, Rotary and so on — would make use of the conference center for meetings if they need it.

After an elevator ride up one floor, you’ll find what Wetzel called the hospital’s interventional platform. Here, you will find the pharmacy; a sterile-processing space where surgical equipment is cleaned; pre-op space; endobronch suites; surgical suites; cath labs; cardiodiagnostics space; and the lab — all of which are fit into a 56,000-square-foot level.

Altogether, there are five OR rooms on the second floor, although only four will be operational on opening day. Each room is between 630 to 680 square feet, which is important because that larger size allows more surgical procedures to be done efficiently. Along with the OR rooms, the hospital will have two cath labs — with one being operational to start.

“The reason why adjacency is so important is because it’s efficiency,” Wetzel said of the second floor. “The fewer steps that we’re asking our caregivers and physicians to take, the better off they are, because volumes will grow.”

One more elevator ride up — this time to the third floor — you’ll find rooms for patients requiring a hospital stay. With the floor eventually becoming the hospital’s ICU, the 30 rooms on the third floor can accommodate ICU-level patients and include state-of-the-art tech to monitor patients.

There’s also a small perk for those who stay in a room on the south side of the floor. Windows give patients a view toward the Disney area — meaning whenever Disney goes back to fireworks shows, those patients will get a little Disney magic to go with their stay.


Although the new facility will impress immediately, it also represents only one phase of a much larger vision. Along with the 40-acre parcel the two current facilities occupy, there’s another 40-acre parcel Orlando Health bought just to the east. Wetzel said it could be the home for additional medical facilities.

“Our good fortune of being here as Horizon West grows, and as we come to understand this community, is we’ll also understand the health care needs of this community better,” Wetzel said. “Those needs, as we identify them, will drive what we do with the remaining property.”

Though the process of getting this new facility up and running has been an adventure for Orlando Health, for Wetzel it’s something that he feels will pay off.

“The most challenging thing is getting a team in place that is confident, capable and prepared to open up a facility and care best for patients,” Wetzel said. “In my quiet moments, that’s what I give most thought to. It’s not turning the lights on and getting the building in a beautiful state. It’s more making certain that we have the experts in all of the areas that are necessary so that when we open these doors, we can stand tall and proud next to this community, within this community, and care for those folks who trust us when they walk through those front doors.”


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