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Doubling up



aerial view Tradition Medical Center

Looking north this view shows the additional three floors and roof, brand new HealthPark Two office building at left, two story extension toward the lake with data center and support services. Not visible in the front is the observation unit and intervention lab, which was completed first in the phased expansion. GREG GARDNER

Medical center’s anticipated two-year expansion project nears completion

BY GREG GARDNER

A most ambitious expansion of Tradition Medical Center will be complete this fall after two years of construction at the hospital while it operated at full capacity.

Doubling in size, the building went up three stories, out to the north, out to the south, and a new office building was built from the ground up. The $116.4 million project, which will add 90 inpatient beds, was fully anticipated before the hospital opened in December 2013.

“Almost immediately after opening the doors of Tradition Medical Center, the need for Tradition Medical Center’s acute care services was evident,” said Donna Murphy, communications specialist for Martin Health System. “Our daily census remained high and many days the hospital was at full capacity. With the hospital exceeding our projections, we had to start preparing to expand Tradition Medical Center soon after opening. We knew this expansion was absolutely necessary to help us stay in step with Port St. Lucie’s projected growth. We broke ground on the expansion in October 2015 and a little more than a year later we opened the first phase.”

Completed first were an interventional lab for cardiac catheterizations, interventional radiology and vascular procedures, an 18-bed observation unit designed to improve the flow of patients who need extended care but don’t require admission, and a 12-bed post-anesthesia care unit. Dozens of parking spaces were added.

BUILDING TALLEST IN CITY

The expanded hospital has 27 emergency bays and 18 observation beds on the first floor. The second floor is home to operating rooms, post-anesthesia care unit, interventional lab, preoperative and endoscopy. The physical plant for the building is on the third floor and is closed to the public.

The fourth floor has 24 medical and surgical patient rooms with a pediatric unit scheduled to open in early 2018. Floor five has 36 medical and surgical patient rooms. The labor and delivery neonatal intensive care unit is on the sixth floor. Postpartum and medical surgical rooms are on the seventh floor. There are 20 intensive care unit beds and 12 progressive care unit beds that help patients transition from the intensive care unit to a medical or surgical bed on the eighth floor and the top floor houses 35 medical and surgical beds with the best views of the city.

Tradition Medical Center is now the tallest building in Port St. Lucie.

The new HealthPark Two office building includes an outpatient surgery center and an outpatient pharmacy so people can check out of the hospital and go straight home. Having a pharmacy on-site will make the hospital a one-stop shop.

PATIENTS WERE PATIENT

Running a hospital with a patient in every bed while completing a construction project of this magnitude was a daunting task.

“It was a challenge to continue treating patients with construction going on in four areas simultaneously,” said Gina All, site administrator for TMC and a registered nurse. “We got very creative with quiet times and we tried to keep the noise down. The patients liked watching the cranes at work from their windows. They were tremendously supportive of us throughout construction.”

Construction workers worked four 10-hour days. Any work not completed during the week was done on Friday.

Two more elevators were added for staff and the public. Many state-of-the art design elements can be found in the new patient rooms. Planners were trying to create a family-centric environment. The ICU rooms have a couch that becomes a twin bed.

“Evidence shows it is better to involve loved ones,” said All, who has overseen several other construction projects for Martin Health System. “We want your family to be comfortable here. We want them to be involved to help the patient.”

The new patient rooms will make life easier for nurses with supply cabinets between every two rooms, saving time in treating people and nurses don’t have to constantly stuff their pockets, All said. The new beds came with pressure-reducing mattresses to prevent bed sores. A new CT scanner, ventilators and cardiac monitors are some of the equipment added. Telehealth capability in ICU rooms allows for video conferencing and immediate intervention by doctors not on-site.

When the hospital opened there were 441 employees. With the expansion, there are 762 employees with 149 more positions in different stages of the employment process. These numbers have more than doubled the impact on the local economy.

“Tradition Medical Center is expanding it, as it should,” said Terissa C. Aronson, president/CEO of the St. Lucie County Chamber of Commerce. “The hospital has run at or near capacity since opening its doors. This is indicative of a city in a growth pattern. Port St. Lucie is the eighth largest city in Florida and we are trending upward in all areas of commerce. This is great for our community, our tax base and our residents increased ability to work near home.”