43 Years of Community Care: North Florida Regional Medical Center’s Dedication to Cutting-Edge, Patient-Centered Care Remains a Constant in Our Community.
Drive by North Florida Regional Medical Center on Newberry Road in December and you’ll be greeted by 80,000 holiday lights and a fleet of cheery Christmas decorations. The nearly three-decades-long tradition has existed almost as long as the 43-year-old institution, the bright display orchestrated solely to lift up the spirits of the hospital’s patients, visitors and passersby.
While this heartening beacon is confined to wintertime, the hospital itself serves as a beacon of hope for the community year-round. Whether it be a life-threatening emergency or routine procedure, the services provided by the staff at North Florida Regional are a great benefit for individuals seeking high quality, patient-centered care.
CEO Brian Cook takes personal pride in helping to continue the hospital’s long legacy of meeting Greater Gainesville’s healthcare needs. In 1973, North Florida Regional opened in cooperation with Gainesville-area doctors and with big expectations. More than 40 years later, those expectations have been far exceeded as the hospital has grown from its initial 150 beds to 432 beds with 2,200 employees in the present day.
“We’re one of the largest private employers in the area,” Cook said, adding that the organization works hard to equip staff with patient-centered decision-making skills and the latest healthcare technology. “I’m extremely proud of our 43 years of caring for this community and the residents of North Central Florida.”
North Florida Regional currently serves as the hospital home for approximately 450 physicians. “[Our physicians] are tremendously talented and dedicated to North Florida Regional and the citizens of North Central Florida,” said Cook. “They have the highest level of training and board certification.”
In addition to treating strokes, a new surgical team at the hospital is at the cutting-edge of treating patients with aneurysms, brain cancer and other disorders, further demonstrating the hospital’s commitment to serving the community better through continuous technological improvements. Some of the techniques used by Drs. Greg Sherr and Asif Khan were approved as recently as 2014.
With the help of a $4 million biplane neurointerventional suite, Khan guides a micro-catheter that’s as narrow as a human hair deep into a patient’s brain and administers medication that dissolves a clot. To do this, the micro-catheter is placed inside a larger catheter, which Khan inserts in the patient’s leg. Once the larger catheter nears the brain, he inches the micro-catheter to the clot. Patients who had lost function of both their arms and legs on one side of body could quickly recover most of that function.
In another new treatment, Khan places a fine coil of wire within aneurysms to seal them off, which is both less invasive and less dangerous than surgery.
The new care program enables Khan to begin the micro-catheter treatment within minutes of a patient arriving at the ER, ensuring patients receive prompt attention and offering a second chance to patients who previously had little medical hope.
For many members of the community, the hospital’s first point of contact is the emergency room — an area on which North Florida prides itself. “Working with our network of support staff, we’re able to handle whatever emergency that arrives on a 24/7 basis,” said Sherr, who focuses on brain and spine surgery.
Patients are screened based on their needs, which separates those with life-threatening conditions from those with minor injuries or illnesses, explained Chief Operating Officer John Gerhold. “The average time to see a doctor is eight minutes,” he said. “That’s crazy fast.”
HCA uses the organization’s size and scale to help standardize care and achieve top clinical outcomes. Gerhold suggested that North Florida Regional has tapped into best practices from other hospitals in the HCA network. As a result, the ER here has decreased patient stays by 20 minutes. “With HCA, we’re able to get information on best practices from anywhere in the corporation,” Gerhold said. “If we see that a sister hospital’s outcomes for a particular group of patients are great, we can always call them and collaborate with them.”
To help a wider population, North Florida Regional has added a behavioral health unit and plans to add two free-standing emergency rooms next year.
The free-standing ERs will be equipped with high-level diagnostic equipment, including CT scanners, and will be staffed by board-certified/ eligible emergency room doctors, Gerhold said. “We will be able to handle everything [at these locations] from delivering babies to treating acute chest pain and strokes,” he said. A location at Newberry Road and Parker Road is scheduled to open in April 2017, and one at NW 43rd Street and NW 53rd Avenue in August 2017.
The behavioral health unit was built as a response to the shortage of beds in the community, according to psychiatrist Dr. Sarah Fayad. She and other unit team members are especially dedicated to treating women who are pregnant or have recently delivered their babies. “Women with depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder often need special help when they’re expecting or after they deliver,” she explained. “We go above and beyond the service that is normally available.” The unit uses new and advanced forms of electroshock therapy that relieve depression in patients who can’t be helped with other treatments. “It’s very safe and effective,” said Fayad. “Patients say, ‘I wished I had done this 10 years ago.’”
For the past 43 years, North Florida Regional has been focused on enriching the community through dedicated, compassionate, extraordinary healthcare — a tradition that will continue for the next 43 years and beyond. “We’re fortunate to have physicians who partner with us to be the community leader in cardiology services, spine surgery, orthopedic joint surgery, general surgery and obstetrical care,” Cook said. “We have a legacy to live up to, we’re all part of this amazing community. So every day we strive to provide the best healthcare possible for those in our community, because that’s what I want for my family, and that’s what every person in our community deserves.”