Hernando's biggest business story of 2013 has its origins in a parking lot behind Oak Hill Hospital.
In February, the Spring Hill hospital celebrated the completion of a two-story, 70,000-square-foot addition that stands where cars once sat. Then, in October, workers put the final touches on 30,000 square feet of renovations to the existing six-story building. Crews broke through walls in three places to join the two spaces.
The $52 million project by parent company HCA of Tennessee marked the biggest expansion at Oak Hill since it opened in 1984 as the first hospital on the west side of Hernando County. It was also largest capital investment for a Hernando hospital since Health Management Associates spent $53 million for the new 183,000-square-foot Brooksville Regional Hospital that opened in 2005.
The project was a shot in the arm to an industry that weathered the recession better than most and helped Hernando from suffering more than it did. The rate of job growth in the field slowed, but it never went backward.
The need for the space was pressing, CEO Mickey Smith said during a tour of the new building earlier this year. For the last few years, the hospital had been running beyond capacity. The volume required an evening shift for surgeries, something that has continued even with the expansion.
The new building on the north side of the Oak Hill campus is called a "tower" because it is designed for expansion to as many as six stories. It features a family lounge for surgery patients, eight operating rooms and 36 private intensive-care rooms on the second floor.
The hospital has 262 acute-care beds, the most in Hernando or Citrus county. The number of operating suites increased from eight to 12. The renovated areas include new endoscopy and bronchoscopy suites.
The hospital has added six full-time employees and six part-timers in the surgery area, spokesman Rich Linkul said last week.
"With 12 operating rooms now available additional staff may be needed to meet potential (patient) volume increases," Linkul said.
Tony Marrero, Times staff writer