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More upgrades for Lakewood Ranch Medical Center

CEO says hospital races forward to meet needs of the community.

Andy Guz, the CEO of Lakewood Ranch Medical Center, said a $28.5 million improvements project, started last February, will be completed by March.
Andy Guz, the CEO of Lakewood Ranch Medical Center, said a $28.5 million improvements project, started last February, will be completed by March.
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Andy Guz, the CEO of Lakewood Ranch Medical Center, said 2019 will be an important year in terms of the hospital meeting the growing appetite of its community.

Among the projects is an exterior painting and landscaping project that might not seem to be of the utmost importance. However, Guz said it is vital.

"It's like food," he said. "People eat first with their eyes. It needs to be aesthetically pleasing.

Guz took time out of his busy schedule to discuss some of the important strides being taken by Lakewood Ranch Medical Center in the coming year. He said the hospital has three main priorities.


When the hospital launched a $28.5 million expansion and improvements project last February, it didn't include the painting and landscaping project.

Although he didn't say the exact cost, Guz said that project will run "several hundred thousands of dollars."

Besides a fresh coat of paint for the exterior and landscaping upgrades, the parking lot is being paved. It's all scheduled to be complete in the spring.

"We want everyone to have a good first experience," he said. "We want it to look the way Lakewood Ranch does."

With so much being spent in the improvement project, Guz said it was deemed important to spruce things up. "There never is a lack of things to spend money on," Guz said. "But we found the money."

The painting already has been started and many trees and plants have been removed and eventually will be replaced.

In April, Lakewood Ranch Medical Center received its first "A" rating from the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grades, which analyzes data from more than 2,500 hospitals nationwide. It was one of 750 hospitals nationally to receive the highest grade.

Guz said appearance is part of the rating.

"It's all part of the patient experience," he said.

The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grades include feedback from the patients on their experience.

Completion of the renovation project

The $28.5 million project, which was the largest since the hospital's opening in September, 2004, included redesigning 40,000 square feet within the 180,000 square foot hospital that would account for an additional 20,000 square feet of usable space. In August, the hospital's administration personnel moved into a new wing that freed up their former space for other uses.

Two new operating rooms and shell space for two more almost are completed. The surgical waiting area has been expanded as has the preoperative space and post-surgical space. The hospital has added a heart catheterization lab along with new MRI and CT scans in the Imaging/Radiology area.

The hospital's Breast Health Center has expanded to handle a second 3D mammography machine and increased patient volume.

"For all intents and purposes, we will be done (with the project) in March," Guz said. "We took an aggressive timeline, but we are growing with the community."

With those expanded areas comes staffing issues and the hospital is adding operating room nurses, scrub technicians and catheterization lab nurses.

Surgeons have taken notice of the improvements. "What we have experienced is that surgeons and cardiologists want to do their surgery at Lakewood Ranch Medical Center," he said. "We had four days a week completely booked up. Now this gives us two more rooms. And we already have 60 percent of those rooms scheduled through the week."

New programs

One key addition in 2019 will be the start of a robotic surgery program. Guz explained it by saying a patient lies on the table in front of claw-like machine, while a surgeon would operate movement through a computer, using an instrument not unlike a joy stick.

"It gives people another alternative," Guz said. "It is minimally invasive and it has been attracting physicians to us."

He said robotic surgery traditionally is used in urology, general surgeries and surgeries having to do with the abdomen. While the technology is not new, Guz said it is unusual for a community hospital to have such equipment, which costs more than $1 million for one machine. 

He said it is just one more instance of investing in the community as it grows.

As far as growth, Guz said time will be set aside in 2019 to talk about possible long-term growth of the hospital, which might eventually lead to another campus in Lakewood Ranch.

"We want to make sure we have the right services in the right places," he said.


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