Special Reports

Major upgrades planned for hospitals in Manatee, Sarasota

BRADENTON -- Major capital investments are in store for local hospitals in 2011.

Blake Medical Center will establish a $2.5 million Level II trauma center and begin a three-year $13.5 million project to improve the hospital’s facade.

Manatee Memorial Hospital will invest millions in improving its ER triage areas and converting to electronic medical records.

And Sarasota Memorial Hospital will continue its construction of a nine-story, 220-room bed tower, a project worth $186 million.

“Next year will be the start of some very exciting projects,” said Daniel Friedrich, chief executive officer at Blake Medical Center.

Blake Medical Center

The Bradenton hospital in August announced its plans to build the first trauma center in Manatee County. Blake Medical Center has already submitted a completed application to the Florida Department of Health. Next year, the Department of Health will put Blake’s application through a series of reviews that will include seeing that the trauma center meets a critical need, an in-depth inspection of the trauma team and on-site visits.

“We’re in the process of putting the whole trauma team together,” said Friedrich, who estimated it will add about 17 additional positions. “We fully anticipate being open between Aug. 1 and Oct. 1.”

Blake Medical Center will expand its helicopter pad to accommodate increased helicopter traffic and will convert four or five of its current treatment bays into two to three large rooms for the trauma center.

In a separate project next year -- one worth an estimated $13.5 million -- Blake will start in February rebuilding the exterior of the hospital. A majority of the project will include replacing the windows and air conditioning units that are aging, Friedrich said.

“From a structural stand point with the windows failing a bit we wanted to have a more secure building,” Friedrich said. “This rebuild will greatly enhance the exterior of the hospital building.”

Manatee Health System

The Manatee Memorial Health System, which includes Manatee Memorial Hospital and Lakewood Ranch Medical Center, will have a huge technology undertaking in 2011.

Kevin DiLallo, chief executive officer, said the hospitals’ major capital investment will be converting entirely to electronic medical records. The project, estimated to cost $2.5 million, will begin in August when the hospitals install Cerner Electronic Medical Record System. The program will allow the hospitals to be completely paperless when it comes to medical records.

“That will allow us to have complete electronic medical records, including all orders that are put into the chart and to share that record with other health care facilities, creating more efficiencies within patient care and eliminating some waste within the system,” DiLallo said.

DiLallo came on to lead the Manatee Memorial Health System in February 2010, replacing Moody Chisholm, who left Manatee to become chief executive officer of St. Vincent HealthCare in Jacksonville.

Under DiLallo’s leadership, Manatee Memorial Hospital has made a number of improvements that have included a lab renovation for inpatient and outpatient care, a renovation of the hospital’s direct access floor, improvements to the emergency department and a renovation of the intensive care unit.

Aside from electronic health records, other goals for the Manatee Health System will include improvements to the Emergency Room triage area. The hospital will invest $500,000 to streamline its processes by adopting a set of management techniques called Lean Six Sigma in an effort to minimize wait times for patients in the emergency department.

Sarasota Memorial Hospital

Sarasota Memorial Hospital will ring in 2011 with the ongoing construction of a nine-story, 220-room patient bed tower.

“It is the cornerstone of a larger $250 million campus improvement plan,” said Kim Savage, spokeswoman for Sarasota Memorial Hospital. “There are many routine capital investments we make each year as we replace or purchase new equipment and upgrade our facilities, but the main campus improvements represent the largest construction projects we have under way and planned in 2011.”

The new tower is scheduled for completion in 2013 and will house several departments including the neonatal intensive care unit, labor and delivery, orthopedics, medical-surgical units and patient support areas.

The $186 million bed tower will replace the oldest wings of Sarasota Memorial Hospital, which officials say no longer have the floor space or features to support modern equipment and technology.

Other improvements the hospital has committed to include an expansion of the hospital’s surgery areas and critical care center, a pedestrian bridge connecting the parking garage to the critical care center and a renovation of the Medical Arts building to expand physician office space.