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Duke seeks consent for two operating rooms in Wake

Duke Raleigh Hospital is one of four health care providers competing to build operating rooms in Wake County.

The hospital applied for permission to build two new operating rooms in the county last month. WakeMed Health, Rex Healthcare and Novant Health have also asked for permission to build operating rooms, after the North Carolina State Health Coordinating Council determined that three additional operating rooms are needed in Wake County.

“It’s a very competitive process,” Doug Vinsel, Duke Raleigh Hospital chief executive officer, said.

Duke Raleigh Hospital wants to add the two operating rooms in order to accomodate new technology and meet increased demand for surgeries.

Carla Hollis, chief marketing and planning officer for Duke Raleigh Hospital, said the hospital has seen an increase in surgical cases by 30 percent in the past two years. In Wake County, the population is growing about 3.5 percent a year, Hollis added.

“We certainly have the demand and with the growth we’re anticipating, we’re going to need [new operating rooms] even more,” she said.

Vinsel said surgeons currently find it difficult to schedule surgeries in the hospital’s 13 operating rooms within the ideal window of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. If the hospital does not add operating rooms, more surgeries would need to be performed at night and on weekends, he said.

“It’s crowded and we’re trying to create additional capacities to make it easier for surgeons to schedule cases and to work in,” Vinsel said.

Duke Raleigh Hospital also wants to recruit new health care workers. As part of its expansion, the hospital will recruit 14 sub-specialized surgeons, as well as additional nurses, surgical technicians and receptionists.

In addition to patient and surgeon convenience, Duke Raleigh Hospitals wants to expand to better suit the incorporation of new technology into surgery, Vinsel said. Not all of the operating rooms, some of which date back to when the hospital was first constructed in 1978, are large enough to house all the staff and equipment associated with robotic surgeries, he noted. Robotic surgeries, which Vinsel said patients have begun to request more frequently, are a more precise way to perform many surgeries.

Hollis said the hospital will expand some of its operating rooms even if it is not chosen to build new ones.

The N.C. State Health Coordinating Council determined the need for three new operating rooms in Wake County in an annual report. The state has until the end of May to determine who will be allowed to build the operating rooms. Unsuccessful applicants will have 30 days to appeal the decision, said Jesse Goodman, acting chief officer for the North Carolina Division of Health Service Regulation.

If Duke Raleigh Hospital is selected, it will begin construction in the summer of 2011, Hollis said.

The addition of operating rooms, which Duke Raleigh Hospital administrators estimate would cost about $8.7 million, is part of the hospital’s Master Campus Plan, Vinsel said, adding that fundng will come from the Duke University Health System’s capital budget.

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