The Orlando door wasn’t exactly held open for Nemours when plans materialized in 2005 to construct a children’s hospital in Orange County’s burgeoning Lake Nona Medical City.
In fact, lobbied by Central Florida hospitals, community leaders and some economic developers declined to help Nemours move forward to seek regulatory approval to build a freestanding hospital, even though public funds weren’t requested.
“And then Bill Brooks, the mayor of Belle Isle, of all places, stepped up to publicly support our plan, and that led to more local support, and the rest is history,” said Roger Oxendale, MBA, president of Nemours Children’s Hospital at Lake Nona Medical City in Orlando and a senior vice president with Nemours. (Coincidentally, Oxendale and his wife, Diane, chose Belle Isle as their residence when Nemours hired him in April 2010.)
In 2008, regulatory approval was finally granted to begin construction of a medical campus and freestanding hospital. A year later, the building process began on the Lake Nona medical campus. It opened Oct. 22, 2012.
Less than three years later, the $400 million asset has become an essential cog in Lake Nona Medical City’s wheelhouse. After only a year, the hospital received an HIMSS Analytics Stage 7 Award for efficient EHR (electronic health record) use and achieved LEED Gold Certification as one of three children’s hospitals nationwide. In 2014, it was among only nine children’s hospitals across the country to land on Leapfrog Group’s Top Hospitals list. Its emergency department was recognized among the nation’s cream of the crop. The accolades keep growing.
“Within less than three years, we’ve brought this hospital from nothing to clearly on our way to being one of the nation’s top children’s hospitals,” said Oxendale. “We’re very proud of being considered a major pediatric provider and referral for children throughout the world.”
Nemours Health System, parent company of Nemours Children’s Hospital at Lake Nona, was established in 1936 via the Nemours Foundation with funds granted from the estate of the late Alfred I. DuPont. The Alfred I. DuPont Institute, a pediatric orthopedic hospital in Wilmington, Del., opened in 1940. Nemours’ expansion into Florida began in 1980 with clinics and practices.
The Nemours Florida network has grown to a dozen primary care offices covering Dr. Phillips, Kissimmee, Lake Nona, Longwood, Maitland, Ormond Beach, Oviedo, Waterford Lakes and Vero Beach. Four specialty clinics operate in downtown Orlando, Lake Mary, Lake Nona, and Melbourne. Six urgent care centers operate in Altamonte Springs, Dr. Phillips, Hunters Creek, Melbourne, Sanford and Waterford Lakes. Nemours pediatric hospitalists are based at the Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center in Haines City, Indian River Medical Center in Vero Beach and Wuesthoff Regional Medical Center in Rockledge.
Located near the Orlando International Airport, Nemours has made a global impact, caring for children from all 50 states and 53 countries.
Beyond the clear benefits of award-winning design and advanced technology implementation, many features at Nemours Children’s Hospital make it special:
- Six oversized, high-tech operating rooms with windows allowing in natural light and an enviable arsenal of drop-down equipment.
- Patient rooms with sophisticated technology identifying every team member who enters.
- The region’s only Muscular Dystrophy Association clinic, led by a world-renowned pediatric neurologist
- Two rooftop gardens and a one acre Discovery Garden where patients and families may enjoy the outdoors without leaving the campus.
- A teaching kitchen where dieticians are able to provide cooking demonstrations for parents charged with their children’s’ special dietary needs.
- A mini-apartment designed for physical therapy to help children relearn various everyday skills.
- A research portfolio that in 2014 consisted of 62 projects and $2.3 million in annual external funding, for a total external research funding package of $7.2 million. Varied project sponsors include the National Institutes of Health, Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, Department of Defense, State of Florida, national foundations, and leading pharmaceutical companies.
- Scholarly activity reached the level of 137 publications and 223 presentations/abstracts for 2014, exceeding 2013 performance.
Even though those statistics are impressive, there’s a key amenity that cannot be measured: Nemours Children’s Hospital is designed by families for families.
“I’m very glad we established the Nemours Family Advisory Council, comprised of Central Florida parents,” said Oxendale. “Because many of these parents have children with chronic health conditions, they have extensive experience with doctors and hospitals. These moms and dads worked with the architect and hospital leaders to help design the hospital and even interviewed finalists for positions at Nemours … more than 85 percent of physician candidates. That’s the way it should be. After all, we designed Nemours Children’s Hospital for families.”
Nemours Children’s Hospital: http://www.nemours.org/locations/nch.html
Nemours Health System: http://www.nemours.org/welcome.html