Oak Hill expands

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Brooksville hospital grows with high-tech addition

By Pat Faherty

BROOKSVILLE — Crystal Culbertson’s job is a bridge between technology and care.


As director of surgical services at Oak Hill Hospital, she has been deeply involved in the hospital’s expansion, which is defined as much by new technology as by concrete and steel.

Oak Hill recently announced the grand opening of its North Tower Phase 1. It was five years in planning, and construction started 12 months ago. The expansion created an additional 71 jobs at the hospital, making it a 262-bed facility.

The two-story tower was constructed to accommodate future expansion up to six stories.

Weber Glass of Inverness provided the energy-enhanced, hurricane-rated exterior windows, the new design privacy windows for patient areas and the interior glass doors. Weber also did louvers for the chiller.

The $50 million expansion added six new surgery suites, 36 intensive care unit private rooms, 18 recovery rooms and separate entrance for surgery patients.

Amenities include a new surgery family lounge and waiting room with an Internet café and kids’ area, new surgery registration area and new information center. Family members can wait in a recliner and people on the large side can enjoy a special-wide.

“We’ve had a tremendous increase in our surgical volume,” Oak Hill Hospital CEO Mickey Smith said.  “We have more O.R. capacity now and all intensive care units consolidated on one floor.”

“By having everything in one place, it increases the efficiency in utilization of our personnel,” the Crystal River resident added.

And that is where Culbertson and other hospital staff played a big role in how the final facilities turned out.

Culbertson demonstrated how people were placed in position as if in a real situation to develop the most effective design and placement in the surgical suites.

“The team can swing these (overhead) monitors into any position they like,” she explained. “Everything is digitally enhanced; they can view X-rays or laparoscopic pictures.”

“I’m proud of the staff involvement in the project,” Culbertson said. “There was input from the doctors and the nurses.”

Doctors can access separate computers to check on other patients without leaving the room or waiting for someone to get off the main terminal.

There are docking stations and speakers for their musical devices and the suites have low-temperature LED lighting to reduce heat.

A high-tech, high-security, automated medication dispenser and other futuristic-looking appliances give the suites a space-age appearance.

High-tech beds

Bob Linares, director of Intensive Care Unit, was also involved in the planning and showed off some of the new technology in the private ICU rooms where patients are monitored with wireless scanners.

The new beds come with a digital display screen on the side that can display a patient’s weight and other information.

Linares explained the bed can provide automated percussion therapy, and sensors can shift pressure points on a patient to prevent bed sores.

And the unit, including telephones and computers — even EFG machines — is wireless.

“We are computerized as much as possible to minimize the risk of medical errors,” he said. “Physicians can access a patient’s medical records 24/7 from anywhere with computer.”

But Linares is particularly proud of a new direction in visiting hours.

“We do 24/7 visiting hours,” he said. “Family members can use a fold-down couch in the room.”

Smith pointed out technology has been incorporated in many other aspects of patient care, ranging from self-check-in kiosks to improving hospital food service and speeding up lab test results.

Theresa Eatough is patient access director. The Homosassa resident agreed technology has improved her job and service for the patients.

“Technology has revolutionized many aspects of patient care,” Smith said. “It is reflected in the happiness of the physicians and staff.”

And while Smith credits technology with many improvements in patient care, he was emphatic that his hospital staff was key in making the hospital expansion and other improvements work for the benefit of the patients.

Contact Chronicle reporter Pat Faherty at 352-564-2924 or pfaherty@chronicleonline.com.