BUILDING FOR THE FUTURE
Hospitals rolling out new programs, buildings
By Brian Bandell
South Florida’s hospitals have become more aggressive in their expansion plans, both in new programs and buildings, as they forecast rising demand for health services.
The health care industry is one of the few sectors in South Florida that have enjoyed growing employment and consumer spending during the economic slump of the past three years. While most industries struggled, South Florida hospitals saw their net income grow 68 percent in 2009, according to state data.
With the baby boomer generation entering its retirement years, when health needs will increase, and the region’s population growth resuming, many hospitals are building for the future.
Miami Children’s Hospital plans to break ground this year on a 120-bed tower, President and CEO Dr. Narendra Kini said. The building will have six stories, and the hospital will occupy the first three floors in the initial phase. It is a $120 million project, financed largely by bonds, that should create 1,300 construction jobs, he noted.
“We will fulfill the promise that no child will have to leave Miami-Dade County for any type of clinical care,” Kini said.
The nonprofit is in the midst of installing electronic medical records on its campus. At the end of the 18-month endeavor, parents will have a mobile application where they can check on the health of their hospitalized children, set appointments and read their treatment plan. The system should help providers reduce errors and improve efficiency, Kini said.
Over the past year, Miami Children’s has added clinical partnerships Palm Beach County. It is looking for more, Kini said. That’s not the only expansion geared for children. In Hollywood, Memorial Health System is constructing a separate building for Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital. The $130 million project with 160,000 square feet of medical space is set to open this year.
Baptist Health South Florida is spending $212 million to build West Kendall Baptist Hospital, which will have 700 employees. Denise Harris, chief nursing officer for WKBH, said every patient room would have a computer so nurses can spend more time at a patient’s bedside when entering data.
Even when nurses are not there, patients in the WKBH intensive care unit would be monitored. In the eICU program, nurses and doctors in a remote location could check patients’ vital signs, see video of them and speak to them with audio equipment. This program is already in place at Baptist Hospital and South Miami Hospital.
“We will be able to reduce mortality by 50 percent where the eICU exists,” Harris said.
This will be Baptist Health’s first teaching hospital as it hosts students from Florida International University’s College of Medicine. The new hospital is aiming for gold LEED certification and is build to withstand a Category 5 hurricane, she said.
The other new South Florida hospital under construction is Bethesda West Hospital, located west of Boynton Beach. The $130 million project by nonprofit Bethesda Healthcare System includes a physician office building that opens this year and an 80-bed hospital that should open in 2013.
Miami Jewish Health Systems hopes to break ground in six months on a long-term acute care hospital on its campus, COO Mo Funk said. The $5.3 million project calls for 24 beds and one operating room in 19,835 square feet.
Miami Jewish Health’s current services include assisted living, skilled nursing facilities, rehabilitation and pain management. Since long-term care is not its core business, it would contract with a specialized company to run the hospital, Funk said.
“If you look at health care reform, providers who can provide a large grouping of post-acute care services will be in better position to partner with hospital for bundled care,” he said. “The more pieces we have, he better position we will be in, in a contracting standpoint.”
Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale has expanded its services with the Dorothy Mangurian Comprehensive Women’s Center, slated to occupy 60,000 square feet on the first floor of the HealthPlex building.
Mark Dissette, senior VP at Holy Cross and administrator of the HealthPlex, said the Women’s Center is designed to be a one-stop-shop for all women’s health care needs. The initial phase focuses on diagnostics and treatment, and the expansion is to include centers for lifestyle and education.
Boca Raton Regional Hospital has taken a different approach to serving patients with its Cindy Bertuch Rosencrans Life Expressions Program (CINDY). Named in honor of a patient who died of cancer, the program provides social support to cancer patients, who will document their lives and leave things for their families to remember them by.
Jennifer Melvin, an oncology social worker at BRRH’s Lynn Cancer Institute, said the program works with cancer patients and their families at all stages – including childcare during treatment, spousal support and end-of-life planning.
“It incorporates all of those pieces and focuses on them now, when everyone has the time and is feeling healthy,” Melvin said.
The University of Miami Health System has placed a big focus on innovative medical techniques, said Dr. William W. O’Neill, executive dean for clinical affairs and chief medical officer. UM has recruited top physicians who have brought groundbreaking procedures to Miami, he said.
Dr. Lee Kaplan, a leading sports medicine surgeon with a knee meniscus transplant procedure, was hired from the University of Wisconsin. Dr. John Temple started a bone bank, which freezes donated cartilage and bones so their stem cells can be used to repair orthopedic wounds. A hearth surgeon who operates with robotics was brought over from the Netherlands.
“We are in a hunt for medical talent,” O’Neill said. “You can have the best stadium in the world with the most luxury boxes. But without a great team, you don’t have anything.”
UM also plans to break ground in 2012 on a 250,000-square-foot medical center on its Coral Gables campus. Services would include urgent care, ambulatory surgery, radiation therapy and cardiac catheterization.
Other expansions in the works at South Florida hospitals include Mercy Hospital’s plan to add 1.1 million square feet to its Miami campus, Jupiter Medical Center launching a $50 million fundraising campaign to build and renovate 116,000 square feet, and Aventura Hospital and Medical Center spending $10 million for a 30,000-square-foot tower with 42 private rooms.