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Business 2005

Prognosis good for improved medical care

Health care providers add new technology and new specialties to offer the latest, fastest patient care, all within the county.

Published February 13, 2005

High-tech medical facilities, faster access to health care services, and more subspecialties are among the changes Hernando residents can expect during 2005, according to those in the county's medical community.

The most obvious major change will be the new Brooksville Regional Hospital, scheduled to open this fall. The 186,000-square-foot facility, on Cortez Boulevard about 3 miles west of its current location in Brooksville, will be owned by the county and operated by Health Management Associates of Naples.

The hospital's associate administrator, Rob Foreman, said the new facility will feature more advanced imaging and patient monitoring equipment, more than double the previous emergency room capacity, and technology that will facilitate faster patient care.

Physicians also will be able to get medical information about their patients more easily using the hospital's new patient monitoring unit.

"I think it's going to get the physicians a lot better access to patient information," he said.

Foreman added that the hospital has been working to upgrade the specialties it has, such as spine surgery, and trying to bring in other specialties, including endocrinology.

Other hospitals also are working to bring in new subspecialties as they try to keep pace with new medical technologies.

Dr. Joseph Parise, director of radiology at Oak Hill Hospital in Spring Hill, said new hospital equipment offers faster, more accurate images of patients.

He said two new CAT scans, for instance, are helping doctors diagnose patients and make decisions about patients with greater speed and accuracy.

"It can be done in eight seconds, whereas it used to take 45 minutes," Parise said of the new scans.

The hospital is also upgrading its patient monitoring system so doctors can have access to images of their patients even if the doctors are away from the hospital.

He said Oak Hill is already a "center of excellence" for cancer and is working to build its stroke treatment program to the same level.

Oak Hill just completed a $10-million expansion of its emergency room.

By year's end, Oak Hill plans to have flat-panel monitors in its operating rooms to provide doctors with high-tech images of patients throughout surgeries. It also plans to launch a new cardiology program later this year, director of marketing Richard Linkul said.

Health care providers predicted all of the new programs and services will bring more specialties, and more potential patients, in the coming years.

"This community has a huge potential for new programs," said Chris Ballish, director of business development for the HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital in Spring Hill. "We get people from all over, and we have a waiting list."

Ballish said the 60-bed HealthSouth facility already is full year-round, but added that some patients leave the area if they have medical emergencies that require specialized care.

He said the new specialties coming to Hernando County are allowing more residents to be treated locally.

[Last modified February 8, 2005, 16:43:07]

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