By Suzy Kridner
NEW SMYRNA BEACH - Bert Fish Medical Center has earned three awards from the Florida Hospital Association, Administrator Steve Harrell proudly told members of the city's Economic Development Advisory Board recently.
The announcement was part of an update he gave on how the 112-bed hospital is doing following an unsuccessful merger attempt with Adventist Health System.
The awards presented at the association's annual meeting included Best Hospital Workplace, Leadership in Quality and Patient Safety, and Innovation of the Year in Patient Care.
Bert Fish Medical Center received the awards in the small hospital category for hospitals with fewer than 150 licensed beds.
This is the second year in a row Bert Fish has been named Best Hospital Workplace by the association.
Mr. Harrell also gave an update to the advisory board on the hospital and said they are actively seeking a partner.
Southeast Volusia Hospital District is a special tax district responsible for the direction and operation of the hospital. The request seeks proposals from parties who may wish to affiliate, associate or partner with the Bert Fish Medical Center or to whom the hospital district could sell, lease or otherwise transfer control of the hospital.
"We're a small community hospital," Mr. Harrell said, "and need to get our patients to the next level of care as soon as possible.
"It is extremely important to have safe local health care," he said.
"We have an engaged workforce that results in better patient care, and have revived our hiring and orientation process. An engaged workforce results in better patient care," he said.
"We were just recertified as a stroke center," he added.
"I'm very proud of the hospital," Mr. Harrell said, and cited "it's been a growth year with the purchase of a new linear accelerator. It's our 20th year in partnership on cancer treatment with Halifax Medical Center."
Two new cardiac catheterization labs have been installed, he said, and opened recently to give the hospital a comprehensive state-of-the-art Heart Center.
Both projects, totaling $7.7 million, had been in the planning stages for several years, said Cheryl Kennison, hospital spokeswoman.
Recently, the hospital debuted two Zenex machines that dispense innovative germ-zapping technology to help prevent patient infections at the hospital.
"There are a lot of super bugs," Mr. Harrell said, such as when patients transfer from nursing homes. He said Bert Fish was the first hospital in Florida to have the machines, which are used to clean patient rooms and the emergency room in addition to regular cleaning.
"Keeping our environment clean is extremely important to us," he said, adding "our infection rates are very low."
Mr. Harrell said, "It's been a great year with improved patient care and physician recruitment."
He said the goal is to have a strong hospital in Southeast Volusia offering as complete care as possible.
"We are an economic force in the community," Mr. Harrell said, adding that 85 percent of the hospital's workforce comes from Southeast Volusia.
The Request for Proposals for a partner have been issued and sent to hospitals in Florida and elsewhere.
"We made a list of 30 health entities looking to expand within Florida or to come into Florida," Mr. Harrell said.
"Florida is very attractive with its Medicare and Medicaid population."
He said Nov. 20 is the deadline for responses to the Request for Proposals.
Then they will be evaluated by a committee and go through an interview process.
For more about the hospital's plans, go online to bertfish.com/our-future.