Gainesville, FL/Lake City, FL - Today, HCA Healthcare North Florida Division affiliate hospitals, North Florida Regional Medical Center (NFRMC) and Lake City Medical Center (LCMC), announced the purchase of former Shands Live Oak and Shands Starke Regional Medical Centers, and subsequent opening of full-service emergency departments Starke ER and Suwannee ER serving more than 70,000 residents in Bradford and Suwannee Counties. Emergency services are the most utilized healthcare service in both counties, and emergency care will be provided from board-certified emergency physicians, 365 days per year for both pediatric and adult patients. Additionally, HCA Healthcare North Florida Division pledged to hire colleagues that currently serve these communities at both Shands hospitals, and as of May 1, the new ERs employ nearly 100 colleagues with plans to expand as patient volume increases.

“Our commitment to the purchase and operation of Starke ER and Suwannee ER ensures that there will be no lapse in emergency care for the families and individuals who rely on these critical 24/7 emergency services. We are also grateful to add so many exceptional caregivers to our HCA Healthcare team who are excited to continue to serve this community with pride and compassion,&rdquo said Eric Lawson, CEO of North Florida Regional Medical Center. “During a time when COVID-19 is a focus, both emergency departments will apply the best practices of HCA Healthcare and the strict guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure healthcare professionals at each of the facilities can safely and effectively care for potential and positive COVID19 patients, while also serving patients who visit the ER for non-COVID-related care.”

For months, NFRMC and LCMC, have been focused on efforts to prepare for any potential impacts of COVID-19 including updating clinical guidelines, training on personal protective equipment, implementing visitor restrictions and health screening protocols, and launching universal masking to ensure every caregiver has the right mask at the right time to stop the spread of infection and protect our colleagues and patients. These universal protections have now been implemented in both ERs to ensure our emergency rooms continue to be a safe place to seek care for all health-related needs.

With Suwannee ER and Starke ER becoming part of the HCA Healthcare network, patients who need admission to either NFRMC or LCMC will experience a more seamless and cost-effective transition, and attending caregivers will have access to integrated technologies, such as PatientKeeper and the Sepsis Prediction and Optimization of Therapy (SPOT) tool offered through HCA Healthcare that help improve patient care. PatientKeeper is a mobile app that provides caregivers access to a single view of their patients’ information across a variety of hospital systems, and SPOT is a real-time tool driven by artificial intelligence that quickly identifies patients with sepsis. SPOT together with the use of evidence-based clinical interventions, has helped save an estimated 8,000 lives in the last five years.

“Both of our hospitals have had a long-standing relationship in caring, treating and supporting patients in both the Starke and Live Oak and we’re proud to expand our care options with the addition of Suwannee ER and Starke ER," said Rick Naegler, CEO of Lake City Medical Center. “Being a part of HCA Healthcare provides our hospitals and our patients access to an international network of data, resources and supplies that allow us better care for our patients and to quickly scale our response to meet the needs of the community. Time and time again, HCA Healthcare has collaborated with local, state and federal government officials, and community organizations, to make certain the community receives support in times of great need such as this.”

As an example of this, HCA Healthcare’s chief executive officer, Sam Hazen, recently met with the president and health care executives at the White House to announce the “Dynamic Ventilator Reserve,” a new public-private COVID-19 effort aimed at allowing hospitals to get critically needed ventilators to hard-hit areas. Additionally, HCA Healthcare recently partnered with Google Cloud and SADA to launch the COVID-19 National Response Portal to promote data-sharing about the COVID-19 pandemic and how it is spreading in an effort to help hospitals and communities prepare and respond.

Added Lawson, “During these challenging times, and always, our caring colleagues are here to support these communities. We are proud to welcome the Suwannee ER and Starke ER into the HCA Healthcare family and to do our part in our community to fulfil our mission—above all else, we are committed to the care and improvement of human life.”

tags: covid-19