North Florida Regional's major expansion nearly done


The new wing of North Florida Regional Medical Center is expected to be completed by summer, shown at NFRMC in Gainesville, Fla., Wednesday, March 6, 2013.

Erica Brough/Gainesville Sun
Published: Friday, March 8, 2013 at 3:07 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, March 8, 2013 at 7:55 p.m.

North Florida Regional Medical Center is on schedule to complete in mid-June the fourth and final phase of a five-year construction project that has revamped and expanded most of the hospital's services.

"The doors are in, the floors are down," Matt Davis, the hospital's chief operating officer, said on a tour Wednesday of the latest wing being built. "At this point, everything goes very quickly."

When the construction project started in 2008, the hospital had 325 beds. In June, it will have 445 beds.

"We've basically added a small hospital," Davis said.

He added that the expansion will add 250 jobs at NFRMC and that the construction alone — contracted out by Gainesville-based Charles Perry Partners Inc. — used "100 percent local labor."

"That is very important to us," Davis said. "It's been a huge capital investment at a time when capital investments didn't exist. We're putting money back into the economy."

The project has cost about $145 million, with the fourth phase alone costing $62 million. The fourth phase includes a new 92-bed patient tower with four floors that expands cardiovascular services and adds a neonatal intensive care and post-partum maternity patient unit, along with a neuroscience unit.

Dr. Tim Wessel, a cardiologist at NFRMC, said the revamped cardio area — which also includes new catheterization labs and non-invasive diagnostic services — "lets us continue to improve on our excellent quality care for patients and lets people know they are in the right place for heart problems."

Wessel added that the additional beds — with private rooms — will be a real boon to patient comfort.

"I think the main thing (the expansion) is bringing is increased comfort and satisfaction for patients," he said. "What makes patients most uncomfortable is having a roommate, let alone a sick one."

Davis pointed out that the private rooms have earth-tone decor to reflect "natural healing." The walls throughout the new wing will be decorated with nature photos by area photographer Susannah Peddie.

Other phases of the expansion have included the construction of a cancer center, cardiovascular intensive care unit, 562-space parking garage, along with the expansion of the emergency department and chest pain unit and the women's center operating rooms.

Davis said all these services will allow the hospital to better serve patients.

"Minus diabetes and gastrointestinal, you're pretty much taking the whole gamut of patients," he said.

Thinking back to the project's infancy, Davis said, "When I started looking at (the hospital's) campus, we didn't have enough infrastructure for what was going on. When you're at capacity every day, it's hard to do what you need to do. We knew we needed to grow to meet the community's needs."

Contact Kristine Crane at 338-3119 or kristine.crane@gvillesun.com.

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