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.”
Even as the hospital grows, it remains dedicated to maintaining a sense of community and a family atmosphere among the staff, noted Chief Nursing Officer Natalie Ransom. “We’re one family,” she said. “A family that’s dedicated to making sure each patient has an exceptional experience.”
The expanding staff family at North Florida has also helped Gainesville families to expand. For the past 26 years, the hospital has taken pride in providing great OB-GYN services. By the end of 2016, the hospital expects to deliver more than half of all babies born in the Gainesville area.
Ransom has been part of the North Florida Regional family since she started her nursing career at the hospital in 1997 as a student nurse tech. Over the next 14 years, she steadily advanced to greater levels of responsibility and medical expertise, becoming an RN and clinical coordinator and eventually a director of medical/surgical services.
In 2011, Hospital Corporation of America, or HCA, the national operator of healthcare facilities that built North Florida Regional alongside local doctors, picked Ransom as one of seven individuals to participate in a special executive training program at a Las Vegas hospital. After successfully completing that program she served as chief nursing officer of two Nevada hospitals before accepting her current position.
Returning to Gainesville this year to lead North Florida Regional’s nurses is a dream come true for her. “This is my hospital. My four kids were born here, and I love being part of a place with such a great culture and reputation,” Ransom said.
Ransom is dedicated to providing her team with opportunities for advancement, and serves as a successful case-in-point for this thoughtful, long-term approach to team-building. “We have many specialties, I want to help provide training and mentoring for all of our nurses. I want to support newer nurses as they are first transitioning into practice to ensure they are successful. In addition, I want to equally support experienced nurses to continue to develop in their professional practice,” she said.
According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the U.S. will face a shortfall of between 14,900 and 35,600 primary care physicians and 37,400 to 60,300 surgeons and specialists by 2025. North Florida Regional is responding to the national shortage by “growing its own,” explained Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ann Weber. They are providing the same ever-improving opportunities for extensive training and education for physicians who are completing their residency.
The hospital recently launched medical residency programs in family medicine and internal medicine, and plans to add additional programs in psychiatry, emergency medicine and OB-GYN. “We’re training the next generation of physicians,” Weber said. “We hope that many of our residents will choose to remain in the community.”
Each resident physician at the hospital works directly with a highly experienced physician. “We provide a great training experience for our residents. We are a busy hospital and have a diverse mix of disease states which allows our residents to have an exceptional training experience,” noted Weber.
In tandem with extensive education of their current staff, the hospital works hard to attract top healthcare talent from around the nation. The hospital recently announced that one of the top cardiovascular surgeons in the U.S., Dr. Chuck Klodell, will be joining North Florida Regional from UF Health Shands Hospital.
Starting in 2017, Klodell will help patients at North Florida using a new valve replacement technique as an alternative to open-heart surgery, called transcatheter aortic valve replacement, or TAVR. The minimally invasive TAVR procedure will be able to help some of the hospital’s sickest patients, as open-heart surgeries are often risky for them.
North Florida’s investment in personnel is just as important as their investment in technology.
The da Vinci® Surgical Systems, robotic surgery equipment known for their minimally invasive approach, have drastically changed the standard of care at North Florida Regional. The newest and most advanced da Vinci® model, named the ‘Xi,’ recently joined the two da Vinci® ‘Si’ models currently in the hospital’s high volume robotic surgery program. The program also uses other cutting-edge surgical robot systems, including The Cyberknife and MAKO.
Using these exemplary machines, North Florida’s Robotics Center can perform less invasive surgeries with drastically shorter recovery times for patients. The center’s dedication to acquiring the latest technology is part of what makes it the leading robotics center in the region, providing more gynecological, gynecological oncology, urology and general surgery than any other healthcare provider in the area.
The hospital recently acquired new equipment that allows the neurosurgery program to provide a higher level of care for stroke victims. Surgeons now can precisely inject clot-busting medicine that minimizes the effects of a stroke, saving lives and enabling many patients to enjoy active lives.
“We strive to continuously monitor and improve upon the care we provide,” said Cook. “It is our commitment and dedication to consistently prioritize upgrades to medical equipment and best practices. Ultimately, we want to have a state-of-the-art facility that is both compassionate and personalized. We will continue to invest in the hospital in order to meet the needs of the community.”
In addition to strokes, a new surgical team at the hospital is also 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 that 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 can 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 that North Florida prides itself on. “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 need, which separates those with life-threatening conditions and 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 who 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.”
CALL OUT BOX:
North Florida Regional Medical Center is a proven leader, with distinctions including:
-Quality Top Performer designation by The Joint Commission for four consecutive years
-Certified Primary Stroke Center
-Accredited Chest Pain Center
-Blue Distinction™ Center for Knee and Hip Replacement, Spine Surgery and Bariatric Surgery
-Recognized by U.S. News & World Report for its High-Performing Gynecology Program in 2010
-An aerial shot of the original hospital in 1974.
-Pictured from left: CFO Jay St. Pierrs, CMO Ann Weber, CEO Brian Cook, Chief Nursing Officer Natalie Ransom, and COO John Gerhold.
-Natalie Ransom discusses with a nurse leader.
-A close-up of the da Vinci® Xi machine at work.
-One of North Florida’s freestanding emergency centers built for community convenience.
Photography by John Sloan and courtesy of NFRMC
“We strive to continuously monitor and improve upon the care we provide. It is our commitment and dedication to consistently prioritize upgrades to medical equipment and best practices.”