Poinciana Medical Center COO offers a glimpse of what’s coming.

Joanna Conley, chief operating officer for the Poinciana Medical Center, talks about the community's first hospital during a meeting at the Poinciana Library. (Photo by Michael Freeman).

POINCIANA – Joanna Conley gets the question all the time — it could almost be called the 30 bed question.
Quite simply, if Poinciana has more than 84,000 residents in its 10 villages, then why is the community’s first hospital opening with just 30 beds?
”I’m asked all the time, ‘Why are you starting with 30 beds, that seems so small and we’re a big community,’ ” said Conley, the chief operating officer for the Poinciana Medical Center, the medical campus now being built off Cypress Parkway in Poinciana, which will include a hospital, emergency room facility, and Medical Office Building.
The reason for that, she said, is that the new hospital will need to continuously evaluate whether its current level of services meets the needs of the community it was designed to serve – and the good news, she added, is that Poinciana Medical Center has plenty of room for expansion.
”We own over 40 acres of property in this location,’’ she said.
On Monday, Conley was the guest speaker at the regular meeting of Poinciana Residents for Smart Change, a civic group working to improve the community that cuts across Polk and Osceola counties. During the meeting, held at the Poinciana Library on Doverplum Avenue, Conley said she understands that some Poinciana residents think 30 beds is inadequate for a hospital in a community of this size.
”If we are full and at capacity right away, early on, then we will be looking quickly at expansion,’’ she said. ”We do have over 40 acres available for expansion.’’
Hospital Corporation of America, the largest provider of hospital services in the United States, broke ground in February on Poinciana Medical Center, the first hospital ever built in this community. HCA currently owns two other hospitals in Central Florida, Osceola Regional Medical Center in Kissimmee and Central Florida Regional Medical Center in Sanford.
Conley was hired three months ago to be the COO of the new campus, which will include the 30 bed hospital, 24 medical and surgical beds, six intensive care unit beds, three operating rooms, and a radiology service.
”We will be a full service hospital available right down on Cypress Parkway,’’ Conley said.
The hospital will include a full service kitchen and dining room, and health care services that will be provided here will include critical care, inpatient adult medicine, emergency services, and diagnostic care. There will be a helipad on the grounds adjacent to the emergency room entrance.
What it won’t include, Conley said, is labor and delivery services, and inpatient pediatrics.
That was something that some members of PRSC felt needs to change.
Tony Claudio, a member of PRSC, said a lot of women in Poinciana could use maternity care here.
”What about in the future, those services for women, and maternity services?’’ Claudio asked.
Just as with the number of beds that will initially be offered, Conley said there’s also future opportunities to expand medical services as well, depending on what the demand is within the community.
”That is something we would continue to evaluate,’’ she said. ”Part of what we’re looking at now is we’re starting with 30 beds and we’re looking at future growth. We’re starting with what we have, and we will continue to evaluate what we have.’’
Poinciana Medical Care will likely accept most insurance plans, she added.
”We will be going through contract negotiations with most major insurance providers, and we will be accepting Medicare and Medicaid,’’ Conley said.
Conley said the construction work was right on schedule, and the hospital would open next summer. It will offer more than 100,000 square feet of space.
”The hospital is expected to be completed in the summer of 2013,’’ she said. ”This is a very aggressive time schedule, obviously just a little more than a year from now.’’
The property now has all the construction footings — or the actual foundation of the hospital building — in the ground now, she added.
”As of last week, we have completed all the construction footings,’’ she said. ”The construction is continuing on schedule. We’ve had a lot of drought in Florida, which is bad for my garden. But it’s great for construction.’’
Parking will be available next to the emergency department and the main hospital, she said. The property is being called the Poinciana Medical Center, rather than the Poinciana Hospital, because that refers to the entire property, which will include both the hospital and the separate Medical Office Building, Conley said.
”It’s more semantics than anything else,’’ she said. ”Poinciana Medical Center covers the entire campus.’’
Nestor R. Neusch, who is also a member of PRSC, asked about the Medical Office Building that will be built next to the hospital.
”Regarding the Medical Office Building, will that be built at the same time and be ready to open next summer?’’ Nuesch asked.
Even earlier than that, Conley said.
”We expect that building to open in the spring of 2013,’’ she said. ”There are future expansion plans as well, for two more office buildings.’’
The units within the Medical Office Building will be rented to physicians, Conley said.
”We have identified there is a significant need for more physicians in Poinciana,’’ she said. ”I get the question sometimes, will you employ all your physicians or will they be community physicians. It will be a combination of both.’’

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