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Winter Park Memorial Hospital asks city for approval to expand

Winter Park Memorial Hospital asks city for approval to expand
Winter Park Memorial Hospital plans to expand its Emergency Services Department and update patient rooms.

Winter Park Memorial Hospital is asking the City of Winter Park to grant approval to nearly double the size of its emergency room and renovate some of its rooms in a $90 million investment to update the hospital and create better emergency room flow and atmosphere.

As part of the changes, the hospital plans to improve the traffic flow on Lakemont near its emergency department where a small parking lot just for ER patients is planned.

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"The city has asked the hospital to improve that area, making the space more green  in that area," said Kenneth Bradley, hospital CEO and also former mayor of  Winter Park. "That will start to happen with this" work.

"There are several reasons for the emergency room growth, he said. "Emergency room services in Central Florida continue to be in high demand. This continues to be a high growth area as well as an area where people age in place."

Earlier this year the hospital created a special program in its emergency room to help keep t older patients calmer and happier.  Seniors are the No. 1 user of the hospital's emergency room.

After screening, some are moved to rooms with a door that keeps down noise. They also have magnifying glasses, large print magazines and hearing devices to help those who are hearing impaired, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

"Some of the things we have learned in designing for seniors, a quieter setting, less bright lights more auditory privacy, make for a better experience for everybody," said Bradley.  We are creating a personalized environment in the middle of what is, for dozens of people, the worse day of their lives."

The hospital also plans to build another wing similar to the Doctor P. Phillips Baby Place but this will house the general hospital population. The hospital now has 320 beds and it will have 335 when finished. More than 100 old style semi-private rooms will be rehabbed into private rooms.

The new areas added to the hospital will continue the architecture style at The Baby Place, which Bradley describes as Mediterranean mated with Prairie style. The style was inspired by the old grand hotels of Winter Park. Often visitors say they building doesn't look like a hospital, something that is a hold-over goal from the founding of the hospital 60 years ago.

"In the '50's when they were dreaming up the hospital, they said they wanted it to be like the Hilton of the South," said Bradley. "This idea of making it something that is clinical, but doesn't fee cold isn't new." Rogers Lovelock and Fritz Architecture is designing the additions. Funding will come from Florida Hospital investment and philanthropy, Bradley said.

If the city approves the hospital's plans, bids should be let in the fall. Construction on the Emergency Room would start at Christmas or at the beginning of 2016 and last a year. The other work will be done simultaneously and is scheduled to last two years, until early 2018.

Winter Park is scheduled to discuss the hospital's plans in early August.

tburney@growthspotter.com or 407-420 6261

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