With the opening of its new outpatient surgery center, Fountain Valley Regional Hospital & Medical Center has increased its surgery capacity by more than 40%.
The expansion — celebrated last week with a ribbon cutting — adds four operating rooms to the hospital’s portfolio, taking it from nine to 13.
Officials say they hope the new center will be convenient and comfortable for patients, efficient for staff and attractive to state regulators who designate hospitals as trauma centers, which provide the highest levels of care for severe injuries. It’s a status Fountain Valley Regional would like to attain.
The outpatient center, a few steps from the hospital’s main driveway off Euclid Street, covers nearly 13,000 square feet and is staffed with full-time anesthesiologists, nurses and technicians.
The hospital invested more than $2 million in equipment and infrastructure upgrades for patients whose procedures typically don’t require overnight admission. The center specializes in ear, nose and throat, gynecological and urological, podiatric, vascular, reconstructive and orthopedic procedures, complementing the comprehensive, 400-bed main hospital.
Hospital Chief Executive Kenneth McFarland said that as healthcare has become more accessible, demand has increased. The added operating rooms will balance surgeons’ load and lessen delays, he said.
The center’s registered-nurse manager, Holly Hurless, said it will provide closer one-on-one care, important for the “know your patient” ethos she emphasizes.
A patient having relatively minor surgery like removal of a benign growth can transition from the operating suite to a recovery wing to home within a few hours, she said. But if the patient shows complications, he or she can be quickly admitted to the main hospital.
The outpatient surgery center, while focusing on less-complicated procedures, also can bolster Fountain Valley Regional’s case for designation as a hospital prepared to handle the most demanding emergency care, officials say.
Orange County has four trauma centers, according to the California Emergency Medical Services Authority: UC Irvine Medical Center in Orange, Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, Orange County Global Medical Center in Santa Ana and Children’s Hospital of Orange County in Orange, which specializes in pediatrics. Fountain Valley Regional hasn’t been a trauma center since the 1980s.
Trauma centers are ranked by complexity and volume, with Level 1 being the highest and 4 the lowest. Of Orange County’s trauma centers, only UCI Medical is a Level 1; the rest are Level 2.
Fountain Valley is aiming for Level 2, which provides 24-hour immediate coverage by general and specialty surgeons in common niches such as orthopedics, neurosurgery, radiology and emergency and critical care.
McFarland said he hopes to get the trauma designation this year.