Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel, the first hospital in the fast-growing pocket of central Pasco, opened its doors at 7 a.m. today.
By 8:30 a.m., the hospital had three patients in the emergency room and doctors had completed the first of four surgeries scheduled for the day, hospital spokeswoman Tracy Clouser said.
"We have some outpatient imaging tests scheduled as well," she said.
The $150 million medical center on Bruce B. Downs Boulevard, just north of the Shops at Wiregrass on State Road 56, is an 83-bed facility designed to eventually expand to up to 238 beds.
It boasts a litany of high-tech bells and whistles, including:
• An MRI machine that lets patients see peaceful nature scenes, play music from their iPod and in some cases cuts the time to take images to mere seconds;
• A hybrid operating room that can be used for minimally invasive surgery or as an imaging suite; and
• An 18-room ER with digital technology that allows patients to be checked in at bedside rather than a triage area or waiting room. Four of those rooms are designed especially for children, with walls that can change colors or show images of space aliens, fish or about 30 other themes to put the youngest patients at ease.
A themed interactive waiting room features video games and a 900-gallon aquarium in partnership with the Florida Aquarium. What it doesn't have: A bank of TVs blaring programming at all hours.
"Those add to the stress level," hospital CEO Brian Adams told the Times during a tour of the construction site back in February.
Other amenities deal with the nuts-and-bolts of patient care: The hospital has all electronic records; a patient bracelet system with bar codes that allow nurses to check a patient's medicine — how much and when it should be given; and even sinks and soap dispensers that record when they were used, so handwashing is documented.
The hospital has been planned for a decade and under construction for nearly two years. It is run by the Adventist Health System, a nonprofit company that is a mission of the Seventh-day Adventist faith.