The Halifax Health | UF Health Medical Center fully opened its doors in Deltona Feb. 4, 2020. Now, after a hectic year that included a pandemic, the Deltona hospital celebrated its first birthday. 

“Thank you to all of you,” Halifax Health CEO Jeff Feasel said to a crowd of doctors, nurses and medical staff. “It’s good people taking care of the people of West Volusia county.”

In a year, the team certainly has taken care of people. According to Feasel, the hospital’s emergency department alone saw 12,000 patients in its first year. 

Alongside medical professionals feasting on complimentary cupcakes at the hospital’s COVID-19-safe birthday party was Deltona Mayor Heidi Herzberg. Driving along Interstate 4, she said, and seeing the hospital gives her a sense of security.

“It’s such a beacon for Deltona,” she said. “Not everyone can say they have a hospital in their community.”

The Halifax facility boasts 256 practitioners, some 200 of whom are licensed doctors. Among those doctors are a number of specialists, including surgeons of all disciplines. 

Feasel said the goal is to continue to expand, not just the facility, but the speciality services offered. He said the number of specialists currently on board is thanks in part to the hospital’s cooperation with the University of Florida.

In recent months, the facility has expanded to include on-site medical offices and outpatient radiology services. 

“We’re always looking to add,” Director of Operations Tonja Williams told The Beacon. “This hospital is built to grow.”

And grow it shall. 

The parcel of land where the Deltona hospital sits at 3300 Halifax Crossing Blvd. has 15,000 square feet of buildable land remaining. In addition, several floors of the main hospital building are still unused. 

With all of that space available, Feasel said the hospital system has begun discussing its next steps: Expanding inpatient and emergency-department capacity. 

The capacity of the fledgling hospital was tested by the novel coronavirus. 

“We cared for many COVID-19-positive patients, and they were cared for right in this community,” Feasel said. 

There were times, Williams told The Beacon, when the 43-bed hospital reached its full capacity. While the capability can be expanded in an emergency, that was never necessary, Operations Director Williams said.

While COVID-19 has been a stress test for hospitals across the nation, Chief Quality Officer Steven Miles said fewer patients have visited the hospital for more minor problems, because of fear of COVID-19 exposure, only to have the problems worsen. 

“Patients were coming in sicker and sicker,” he said. “We’re hoping the vaccine gets people loosened up.”

Miles said he is happy to work at such a great facility, calling it a “medical destination.” 

“Very few communities get new hospitals,” Miles added.

After a challenging year, CEO Feasel said, he is looking forward to 2021, and hopes it is a “semi-normal” year. Rather than lament the difficulties presented by the pandemic, Feasel said, he prefers to think of it as the hospital opening just before people needed it most. 

“We can say it was a horrible time,” he said. “But we can also call it the best timing for this community.”