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Rockwall, Texas, Opens $75M Hospital

ROCKWALL, Texas -- Rockwall's first hospital is scheduled to begin accepting patients Friday.

"It's really huge," Mayor Bill Cecil said. "We want to have everything we need right here in Rockwall. That's a huge piece of that."

Past attempts to open a hospital in the city failed, but the resources of the Presbyterian Healthcare System, combined with the area's explosive growth, have finally made the full-service $75 million hospital a reality.

Ken Teel, president of the new Presbyterian Hospital of Rockwall, said an estimated 75 percent to 80 percent of local residents travel elsewhere for medical care. Now they'll be able to undergo many tests and procedures in their hometown at a facility with the latest technology.

City leaders expect the hospital to bring an increase in professional and technical workers and visitors from outside communities. Mr. Cecil said that even before its opening, the hospital has provided an economic stimulus for other development.

It's a significant piece of the medical corridor developing along Horizon Road from Ridge Road (FM740) into Heath. Assisted-living and senior facilities, set to begin construction early in the new year, will join medical offices already present and under construction. Mr. Teel said other possibilities along Horizon Road include an Alzheimer's treatment facility or a women's hospital. The Presbyterian Hospital designers took an upscale approach. Soon, a grand piano and a Starbucks will greet visitors at the main entrance.

The nearly 126,000-square-foot facility is also equipped with the latest technology.

For example, the bore of its MRI machine is less bulky, so patients should be less intimidated when getting tested. Older machines seem to swallow a person whole as he or she glides inside. The one at the Rockwall hospital can hold up to 550 pounds, nearly 200 pounds more than older models.

Operating rooms measure 600 square feet, more than 100 square feet larger than some in existing hospitals. Screens surrounding the operating table will enable a surgical team to view results of an MRI or CT scan and see charts at the same time. Conversely, technology will allow a doctor outside the operating room to see what's happening inside and consult with the surgeons.

The labor, delivery and recovery wing, scheduled to open in the spring, will be secured and will employ scanning technology to ensure that each baby is taken to the correct mom.

The staff will be able to send real-time information to the PDA or laptop computer of a doctor dining in Dallas, so he or she can see what's happening to a patient in Rockwall. Labor and delivery and intensive-care doctors miles away will be able to instruct nurses or doctors who are tending to their patients.

Patients will be able to have food delivered to their rooms from the cafeteria. Wireless Internet will be available to visitors throughout the hospital.

But Mr. Teel said it is care, more than technology, that will bring patients back.

More than 3,500 people applied for the first 150 job openings, he said, and that allowed the hiring of staffers who possess not only skills but also compassion.

All employees are expected to look people in the eye and smile, he said.

"We start our reputation the first patient we see, and it gets reshaped based on the last patient we see," Mr. Teel said.

Mr. Teel, Mr. Cecil and Jeff Patterson, Lake Pointe's associate administrator for business development, agreed that the area can support the 50-bed Presbyterian of Rockwall and the 112-bed Lake Pointe.

"As both hospitals grow, we will hopefully give the community a reason to never have to leave," Mr. Patterson said.

Presbyterian of Rockwall was designed to grow vertically and horizontally. Within a few years, the hospital will nearly double in square footage and bring the total number of beds to 153, Mr. Cecil said.

With 1,200 employees by then, he said, the hospital will be one of Rockwall's largest employers.

Mr. Cecil said the new hospital, as well as Lake Pointe and Baylor Medical Plaza in Heath, would attract people from East Texas who previously had to go to Dallas for care.

"From a countywide standpoint," he said, "we're going to be the medical destination east of Lake Ray Hubbard."

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