By Joe Potter
VIPs wearing pink hard hats and wielding a pink sledgehammer knocked down a wall as construction began Thursday on a comprehensive Breast Health Center at Florida Hospital Zephyrhills.
The $1.5-million, 11,000-square-foot facility is scheduled to open in mid- to late 2012. The Breast Health Center at Florida Hospital Zephyrhills will be a top-notch state-of-the-art medical facility that will offer lifesaving services to both women and men for generations to come said Gene Whitfield, chairman of the Florida Hospital Zephyrhills Foundation Board of Trustees.
Among those helping to knock down the wall were Whitfield; Doug Duffield, FHZ’s president and chief executive officer; Vonnie Mickelson, executive director of the Greater Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce; Wilton Simpson, Republican candidate for the state Senate seat for the 11th District; and Dr. Kimberly Apple, a general surgeon at FHZ.
In April, the Foundation’s Board unanimously approved releasing funds for the construction of the first phase of the BHC. “This is a positive and visible sign that we will soon be able to unveil this new service to our community. The BHC is now becoming a tangible reality and we couldn’t be more pleased about this important step in the building process,” Whitfield said.
The venue will make a significant difference to breast cancer patients because all of FHZ’s breast health services will be together, close to home and under one roof. Doctors from various disciplines – ranging from surgeons and radiologists to oncologists – will all have offices in the center.
This will enhance the treatment of breast cancer patient, Duffield said. Patients currently have to visit doctors at other locations for their initial diagnosis, for follow-ups after surgery, and for other reasons. Having all breast health services under one roof will mean patients don’t need to travel to different locations to receive care, Duffield said.
“I am very excited about the BHC program,” said Apple. “It’s going to really improve the quality and the coordination of the care that we are able to provide.”
She noted she has seen more cases of breast cancer in east Pasco County in the last few years. Breast cancer is more common in older women who are a significant demographic in east Pasco. Also, more women are now taking steps to detect breast cancer in its earliest stages than in the past.
“This is a wonderful project … very much needed for our community. All aspects of the breast care program – radiology, surgery and oncology – come together under the BHC,” said Dr. David Rippe, a radiologist at FHZ.
The Grandview Medical Tower on the FHZ campus at 7030 Gall Blvd. is being remodeled to make room for the Breast Health Center.
There are currently many “naming opportunities” for people or organizations to name rooms at the BHC in honor of or in memory of family members who have had breast cancer. The “naming opportunities” are very obtainable and the levels of contribution may easily be reached according to Carolyn Sentelik, the foundation’s executive director. “We would like to definitely put names on a lot of rooms,” Sentelik said. Information about “naming opportunities” may be obtained by calling Sentelik at (813) 783-6144 or e-mailing her at .
Established in 1985, FHZ has experienced more than 35 additions or renovations, growing to a present day capacity of 154 beds, 450,000-square-foot full-service healthcare facility.