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East County Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020 2 months ago

Oh baby, new doctor's on the job at Lakewood Ranch Medical Center and Manatee Memorial

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Lakewood Ranch Medical Center and Manatee Memorial add a neonatologist to help with any birth difficulties.
by: Jay Heater Managing Editor

On her second day as the medical director of neonatology at Lakewood Ranch Medical Center and Manatee Memorial, Dr. Audrey Davis was having a slight problem getting an employee to understand she, indeed, was on the staff of the hospital.

The employee was simply taking her job seriously, checking everyone at the front door to make sure they had a reason to visit Lakewood Ranch Medical Center. The employee ran down a list of staff members and her name didn't appear.

Davis was gracious, handling everything with a smile and a touch of class.

It was understandable since she often is the "baby doctor no one wants to see."

Certainly, no mother wants a neonatologist to intervene at birth, as that usually signals trouble. But the administrators at Lakewood Ranch Medical Center and Manatee Memorial, along with the mothers, are thrilled Davis will be on the scene if there are difficulties. Both hospitals operate under the Universal Health Services umbrella.

At Lakewood Ranch Medical Center, it's the latest of many improvements to help the hospital keep up with the community's tremendous growth.

In June, Lakewood Ranch Medical Center began construction on a $3 million renovation of its Women's Center. The project was started to give the Women’s Center a more spa-like atmosphere and expand access to maternity care. The project is expected to be finished by early 2021.

Just before that renovation began, the hospital hired Chrissy Coney as its first "birth designer."

In July, 2019, the hospital completed a $28.5 million expansion that included two new operating rooms with space for two more, a second heart catheterization lab, a new advanced MRI system, an additional technologically-advanced CT scanner, an expanded an enhanced surgical waiting area, a new location for the Breast Health Center and new administrative office space.

Among other projects was the opening of the ER at Fruitville that opened Dec. 1. 

Davis said before her hiring, a newborn in difficulty might be taken by the family to another facility more equipped to deal with the situation.

Now Davis said space is being dedicated at Lakewood Ranch Medical Center so babies in difficulty can stay right where they are. Davis and Dr. Wajed Haddad, another neonatologist, check babies every day at Lakewood Ranch Medical Center and Manatee Memorial.

Davis' hiring also was testament to the draw of Lakewood Ranch.

A Pasadena, Calif., native who spent the past seven years working at Sunrise Children's Hospital in Las Vegas, Davis and her husband Douglas Grant began looking for a new home after Davis' elderly parents, Las Vegas residents, died.

"It is gorgeous here and we are water people," she said. "And Florida (like Nevada) has no state taxes."

In Las Vegas, Davis was on a staff of 15 neonatolgists. She could become a program director in Lakewood Ranch with the opportunity to create policy.

"Lakewood Ranch is growing and I'm excited to grow with this unit."

Davis and her husband are building a home in Waterside and they look forward to Waterside Place, the new restaurant and entertainment hub scheduled to open this spring. The Market at Lakewood Ranch, currently being held in the Lakewood Ranch Medical Center parking lot each Sunday, is expected to move to Waterside Place as early as this summer.

Davis attended the Market her first day in the area.

"We fell in love with the pickle guy," she said. "And they have the best baguettes."

Meanwhile, she will introduce herself to as many people at the hospitals as possible.

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