Editor’s Note: This is the 21st in a series of 24 articles published by The Apopka Voice in 2017 that were among the most noteworthy. We will post all of them from December 26th through December 31st. Then on Monday, January 1st we will poll our readers and let them decide which is Apopka’s biggest story of 2017.

Story #21: A changing-of-the-guard took place as the new Florida Hospital Apopka on Ocoee Apopka Road opened its doors, and the longtime hospital on Park Avenue closed.

For decades it was dreamed about, planned, and considered.

In 2013, land was purchased to make the dream a reality.

For almost 50 years, Florida Hospital has been a part of the Apopka community

In March of 2015, plans and considerations took shape and ground was broken.

By December of 2015, 1.9 million pounds of concrete was poured and a base was formed.

Slowly but surely the new Florida Hospital Apopka has ascended from the fertile ground of Northwest Orange County and into the hearts, minds, conversations, and imaginations of residents, elected officials, and business owners who see this astounding 450,000-square-foot landmark as a transformative moment in Apopka history.

Symbolically it’s at the intersections of old and new Apopka. However, it is more than a symbolic landmark.

A new era began today with the opening of the new Florida Hospital Apopka. The changing-of-the-guard ceremony took place this morning at 7 AM with about a dozen ambulances from Florida Hospital and the city of Apopka moving 23 patients from old to new.

The 50-year-old Florida Hospital Apopka on Park Avenue is now closed.

The new Florida Hospital Apopka is a seven-story, 450,000 square foot wonder.

“The transition couldn’t have gone any better,” said Tim Cook, administrator of Florida Hospital Apopka. “It took a lot of planning, and our team did a fantastic job of wrapping up operations and the old hospital and welcoming our patients to our new location, where we will continue our legacy of care while expanding our services for the community.”

By the end of the process, the new hospital had already reached a few milestones: It received its first walk-in patients (including its first pediatric patient); the first patient to be transferred from another hospital (Florida Hospital Winter Garden) arrived, and the first procedure (a bronchoscopy) was performed.

The new hospital includes 120 private inpatient rooms, expanded surgical services, advanced surgical suites, and a catheterization lab. The seven-story building will also feature a 30,000-square-foot emergency department with pediatric-friendly beds, imaging services, a full-service cafeteria, chapel and gift shop.

The Apopka Area Chamber of Commerce welcomed the new Florida Hospital into the community.

In his State of the City Address, Apopka Mayor Joe Kilsheimer called it one of the transformative pillars of Apopka.

“First and foremost is the opening of the new Florida Hospital Apopka,” he said. “This $200 million investment in Apopka will revolutionize the perception and reputation of our city. From a healthcare perspective, Apopka is now able to tell people our community provides access to world-class, state-of-the-art medical care. From a visual standpoint, the striking architecture of Florida Hospital Apopka welcomes everyone who approaches our community from the south. It’s the first thing anyone sees that says “Apopka.” That is significant.”

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