Expansion almost done at North Florida Regional


Matt Davis, CEO of North Florida Regional Medical Center, takes a tour of the new wing of the hospital, which is expected to be completed in mid-June.

ERICA BROUGH/Special to the Guardian
Published: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 1:46 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 1:46 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," said Matt Davis, the hospital's chief operating officer, during a tour recently 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 North Florida Regional 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 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."

Kristine Crane is a Gainesville Sun staff writer.

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