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Orlando Health debuts its Horizon West hospital – with room to grow

Orlando Health unveiled its newest hospital Tuesday — a $145 million, 120-bed facility in Orange County’s rapidly growing Horizon West development that has lots of room to expand.

Horizon West Hospital is a 228,000-square-foot facility rising six stories, half of them reserved for future growth, including two entire floors that are empty. When it begins accepting patients on Jan. 30, it will have 30 beds for acute-care patients, four surgery suites, a cardiac catheterization lab for minimally invasive heart procedures and extensive imaging services.

But it will have the capacity to add 90 more beds, a fifth surgery suite and another cath lab.

“We’ve built the medical campus in such a way that as Horizon West grows, our facilities can also grow to meet the inevitable growth in demand for healthcare services,” said Brian Wetzel, chief operating officer of the new hospital. “We’ve been proud to serve the growing community of Horizon West since we opened our emergency department and medical pavilion here in 2018, and the hospital is a vital piece of our community commitment.”

The 78,000-square-foot emergency department and medical pavilion opened in September 2018 and are adjacent to the new hospital, located at 17000 Porter Rd. in Winter Garden, near State Road 429, the Western Beltway.

For now, all patient rooms will be on the third floor, but the fourth floor is built, furnished and partially equipped, Wetzel said, so it can be ready for patients within a matter of weeks. The fifth and sixth floors remain concrete shells until demand increases, as officials expect.

The community, in the southwestern corner of Orange County and bordered roughly by Disney to its south and Winter Garden to its north, is home largely to theme park employees, young families, Disney annual pass holders and retirees. Growth in recent years has come at a dizzying pace — the population more than doubled from 2012 to 2017, jumping from about 12,000 residents to 25,000.

Before the COVID pandemic crippled Central Florida’s tourism industry, about half of Orange County’s residential building permits were for Horizon West.

When finished, likely in another 20 years, the area is projected to be home to 85,000 people, about as many as Ocoee and Winter Garden combined.

The hospital, Orlando Health’s 10th, is the first such entirely new facility built by the nonprofit health-care corporation since Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies opened 15 years ago.

But Wetzel said its design sets it apart.

“It’s not a typical hospital,” he said. “Everywhere you look, there are windows that allow for the sunlight to come in, which is important to a healthcare setting. And the nature-themed art that we have throughout the facility is also a very comforting, I think, and an inviting component. The atmosphere is more welcoming and soothing than institutional.”

Before Horizon West, Orlando Health’s nearest hospital was Health Central in Ocoee, about 20 miles away.

AdventHealth broke ground in March 2019 on a 80-bed hospital in Winter Garden, adjacent to its existing emergency department and medical office building. That facility, about 7 miles from Horizon West Hospital, is slated to open in 2022.

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Kate Santich | Orlando Sentinel

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