It’s one of the very rare times people happily, willingly went to a doctor’s office and enjoyed it—not just because there were neither copays nor colonoscopies to contend with: Florida Hospital Flagler’s official opening of Parkway Medical Plaza Monday afternoon was more like a gallery opening, with the 34,000 square foot facility on Cypress Edge Drive transformed into an homage to the medical arts, and to itself of course.
Hospital staffers, including doctors, were docents to their digs, showing off a mixture of elegance and convenience that should make going to these offices a little more pleasant even when it’s by necessity as opposed to pleasure.
“This is really nice. Well thought out, well designed. I like it,” Tony Papandrea, a member of the Florida Hospital Flagler Board of Directors (and the chairman of the both the hospital’s foundation and its hospice foundation), said.
“Do you approve?” asks Tanam Ahmed, one of the hospital’s newest physicians. She has a family practice at the new building.
“Yes ma’am,” Papandrea says, before calibrating the suit’s scale top his liking. (Ahmed is also his doctor, so he’ll be on that scale from time to time.)
The suite extends from a reception room through a corridor with two exam rooms, one procedure room, a break room and a storage room branching off left and right, with Ahmed’s office at the very end, against a pane of glass windows that give onto Cypress Edge. It makes you want to say aaah. Other offices are similarly laid out, with slightly bigger or smaller square footage depending on the specialty. There will be a few new ones, including an interventionist cardiologist (think angioplasty, or Big Mac, since the two share a close kinship), an ear, nose and throat doctor (Palm Coast’s first), a nephrologist (kidneys), and a neurologist. (All take Medicare, the health insurance for the elderly, few take Medicaid, the health insurance for the poor.)
The $15 million facility also has a walk-in clinic, speech, physical and occupational therapy for adults and children, an imaging lab, a blood (and other fluids) lab, and a women’s center. Some of those are part of the Freytag Children and Outpatient Rehab Center, which is actually shifting from its location at the hospital to the Plaza. The shift will enable the center to care for more patients than it does now, says Gina Masbad, a speech pathologist.
“This place is beyond description,” Papandrea said. “I think this is the epitome of the future of health care because we have a hospital that provides the services we do and this satellite provides services for people who don’t have to drive down to the hospital,” on State Road 100. It’s also a way for the hospital to expand its reach against the competition in a hytper-competitive field.
Throughout the late afternoon, visitors—patients, politicians, the merely curious—streamed through the building to see for themselves before everyone was gathered under a set of big tents outside for the blessing of the building by a chaplain (Florida Hospital Flagler is part of the 22-hospital Florida Hospital network, a Seventh Day Adventists institution), and a few words from David Ottati, the hospital’s CEO.
Moments earlier, he’d answered a few questions about the afternoon’s purpose. “When somebody gets sick,” Ottati said, “health care tends to be the most important thing on their mind. I don’t think that’s worshipping health care. I think we need to make sure that we take personal accountability first and foremost to keep yourself healthy, and that’s a determination that we each and every one of us has to make. But people’s bodies—things can go wrong, people can fall, people can have accidents, and as the body ages, things will occur. When that occurs, we want to make sure that we elevate the quality of everybody’s lives to the utmost best possible.”
One of those purposes, he noted, is to lessen the fragmentation of health care providers. “Our goal is to integrate that. It’s one reason many of our physicians are going to one platform for medical records in a combined, integrated health care service,” he said.
The new building will net the area about 15 to 25 new jobs for now, with more likely in the future. The hospital is the largest private employer in Flagler County, its ranks approaching 1,000 employees.