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East County Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018 3 months ago

Lakewood Ranch Medical Center launches $28.5 million expansion

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Community's growth prompts the hospital to plan an expansion.
by: Jay Heater Managing Editor

In announcing his hospital's $28.5 million expansion on Tuesday, Feb. 13, Andy Guz emphasized the community part of the Lakewood Ranch Medical Center.

"Without the success of the community around us, we probably wouldn't be doing this," said Guz, who took over as the hospital's chief executive officer in November, 2016.

In January, Lakewood Ranch was recognized as the third best-selling, master-planned community in the country by both RCLCO and John Burns Real Estate Consulting, two independent real estate consulting firms. Lakewood Ranch had 1,206 new home sales in 2017 and now has more than 30,000 residents.

"We are very much like Lakewood Ranch, which is growing at a rapid pace," Guz said. "Our biggest challenge is how we can accommodate that growth."

Lisa Kirkland, the director of marketing for the hospital, said it now has over 450 physicians on staff. Guz said the number of allied healthcare professionals increases to more than 550 when including staff such as advanced nurse practitioners and physician assistants and he said the 120-bed hospital typically adds new physicians every month.

With that increase in physicians and patients came the need for operating room space. In evaluating the 180,000 square foot hospital, Guz and his staff came to the decision an extensive remodeling could make better use of the existing space. After receiving the building permits on Feb. 9, work  began to reconfigure between 40 to 50% of the existing space on the first floor into a new plan that would offer an additional 20,000 square feet of usable space.

Guz said 90% of the expansion will be completed within the existing building with the other 10% involving walls that will be extended slightly. Lakewood Ranch Medical Center sits on 30 acres.

"Since we opened in 2004, this will be our largest expansion project," Guz said. "There is a need for this in our community."

Besides new operating room space, along with pre- and post-operation room areas, Guz said one of the keys to the expansion is adding a second heart catheterization lab that allows doctors to work with patients experiencing active heart attacks with procedures such as removing a clot or opening a blood vessel.

Another highlight will be expanding its Breast Health Center to handle a second 3D mammography machine and increased patient volume.

New areas for additional specialized imaging equipment, such as a new MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) machine and CT (computed tomography) scan, are being added to the hospital’s Radiology department and will be more convenient for patients, whether they come from outside the hospital or have been admitted.

He stressed that people in the community might not understand the magnitude of the redesign since much of it is happening within. The look from the outside of the Lakewood Ranch Medical Center won't be all that different.

"This is not rip it down and tear it up," he said.

The result, he said, is that "we are accommodating demand, adding capacity for future growth.”

A 10,000 square foot area on the first floor of the hospital that has been undeveloped since its opening in 2004 is now being built to accommodate administration offices that will be transferred from the existing usable space in order to clear up room for expansion of other services, such as operating room space.

It all means the hospital will be able to service more patients.

The additional operating rooms will mean the hospital can service up to another 10 patients per day per room. Guz said that is a rough estimate, but when multiplied by two new operating rooms and 365 days a year, the impact is obvious.

Lakewood Ranch Medical Center will undergo a $28.5 million upgrade.

The expansion will help draw new doctors, who Guz said will be pleased since more operating rooms means more opportunity to accommodate scheduling.

"When I look at our growth year by year, and month by month, we saw more patients in January than ever before and that will be true each month. Our peak time has increased (in number of patients) and our valleys are chasing that at a higher rate."

He said he feels the hospital has established a solid reputation in Lakewood Ranch.

"People like to feel our culture of personal connection and quality care here," he said. "We are not producing widgets."

During the construction period, Guz said the hospital, which is owned by Universal Health Services, will have limited disruption. "We are not going to be able to stop what we are doing," he said.

The construction cost was privately funded.

Guz said eventually the plan could be to build a multi-story “patient room tower” off the side of the hospital, using an area that is  currently green lawn space.

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