Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast (SHHEC) recently announced the opening of its new fifth operating suite in their surgical center.

"Coupled with our highly-trained surgical team, this important operating room expansion provides us with the environment to provide an exceptional level of high-quality, patient-centered surgical care," said Dr. Gary Pablo, Sacred Heart’s chief medical officer.

Sacred Heart Chaplain Jeff Ryan blessed the new operating room and anointed the hands of associates with oil during a "Blessing of Hands" ceremony for those who work in the surgical area.

"This expansion will provide more efficient operating room workflow for doctors, nurses, staff and patients,” said Aleta Jefferson, manager of Perioperative Services at SHHEC. “The operating rooms are designed to allow for maximum efficiency and the highest levels of safety, which will directly benefit all of our patients.”

The area’s fast-growing population has resulted in an immediate increase in the need for surgical services. Since opening in 2003, the numbers and complexity of surgical procedures at SHHEC have steadily increased. The surgical department now sees more than 8,100 patients a year and is consistently recognized nationwide for outstanding patient experience. The expansion is the latest phase in the hospital’s growth. Previous additions included 12 new inpatient rooms, 12 new post-partum rooms and 13 new emergency rooms.

“We are very pleased to celebrate another great milestone in providing a greater capacity for surgical care,” said Roger Hall, president and CEO of SHHEC. "We are grateful for the support of the community as we continue to grow and develop new ways of providing outstanding medical care in a safe and caring environment.”