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East County Friday, Feb. 22, 2019 6 months ago

 Growth Mode

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Lakewood Ranch Medical Center nears completion on an ambitious expansion to better serve the community.
by: Eric Snider Contributor

Of all the upgrades that resulted from Lakewood Ranch Medical Center’s $28.5 million expansion, one is likely to have the most immediate effect on the overall patient experience. 

Lighting. 

All of the hospital’s incandescent and fluorescent bulbs have been replaced by light-emitting diodes, commonly called LED. “It gives the center a more daylight kind of atmosphere, rather than that sterile office-building look,” says Lakewood Ranch Medical Center CEO Andy Guz. “National trends have hospital expansions leaning more toward a hotel-like experience, and that’s especially appropriate for Lakewood Ranch, which tends to be more upscale.”

The center has also upped its game by adding new treatments and technologies including: 

  • Two new operating rooms, one of which includes robotics, with an enhanced surgical waiting area and improved pre-op and post-op spaces, as well as shell space for two future operating rooms.
  • An additional heart catheterization lab, with an electrophysiology component that tests the electrical activity of the heart and can pinpoint the problem location.
  • A new and more advanced MRI system.
  • A new and more advanced CT scanner.

The renovation moved the Breast Health Center, which features the area’s first 3D mammography, to a nearby facility and moved the administrative offices into a 10,000-square-foot space left vacant when the medical
center opened in 2004. That area has been outfitted with modern interior designs and color templates that will spread throughout the hospital in subsequent renovation phases.

"National trends have hospital expansions leaning more toward a hotel-like experience, and that’s especially appropriate for Lakewood Ranch, which tends to be more upscale.” — Lakewood Ranch Medical Center CEO Andy Guz

Guz says the expansion project has added almost 20,000 square feet of usable space to the hospital and includes a redesign of an additional 20,000 square feet — affecting nearly a quarter of the 120-bed hospital’s total space. All these enhancements, we might add, are exceedingly well-lighted. Oh, and for good measure, the center got an exterior paint job as well. 

Several phases have already opened, and the expansion is due to be complete in the first quarter of this year. 

The project was necessary to meet the needs of a thriving community. 

“It was a matter of keeping up with the demand,” Guz said. “As Lakewood Ranch grows, so must its hospital.”

Lakewood Ranch Medical Center says it has experienced a 40% increase in admissions, 66% rise in surgeries, 25% growth in emergency room visits and 76% surge in outpatient visits since 2010.

But patients aren’t the only ones who benefit from the expansion. Hospital administrators, working in concert with corporate parent Universal Health Services in Pennsylvania, spent two years developing the project before the first construction crews showed up. Part of that time was spent surveying doctors on what they most needed, then adding the proper components.  

The expansion provides more opportunity and availability for its 491 on-staff physicians. Two new operating rooms, for instance, mean adding 10 additional operating days per week, says Guz. That allows surgeons to book more procedures and for more doctors to join the staff.

The hospital remaining fully operational during the 12- to 14-month project is a logistical achievement. 

“The goal was always to have limited disruption of services,” Guz says, “so it was kind of like playing musical chairs. [Doing construction] inside a clinical environment has far more rigorous standards than, say, an office building.”

Regarding sterility, there can be no mistakes, he says. 

The mammoth undertaking met the usual share of bumps in the road, Guz says, but did not suffer a major setback. 

“I’d have to say that it went pretty smoothly,” he says, adding with a tinge of pride, “we’re on schedule and on budget.” 

The makeover is the first phase of a master expansion plan that will include more projects during the next five to 10 years. Guz hopes that, when it comes to medical care, Lakewood Ranch residents “never have to leave the bubble.”

A robotic surgery program utilizing a robot like this one is a major addition to the medical center.

 

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