“We are now UF Health”

Our beloved orange ampersand. When people ask me what I do at UF&Shands, up until May 20 I said "I work on the ampersand." Now I need a new job description.

When I arrived in July 2009, President Machen and the UF Board of Trustees conveyed clearly that my main job was to bring together the Health Science Center and Shands into a functionally integrated system. The process by which this has occurred came to be embodied by the ampersand. I have tried to embrace this concept of the ampersand in my actions every day; the extent to which it has been fully embraced by faculty and staff across our academic health center has been truly heartening, and is fundamentally the basis for the progress we have made.

We are now ready for the next step. UF Health is UF&Shands with the ampersand all grown up. This statement summarizes my speech on May 20, when we launched UF Health. We are excited by our new brand, which reflects the tremendous progress we have made in transitioning from "we and they" to "us." Printed below is my speech announcing "We are now UF Health." Following this are links to remarks in Gainesville from Tim Goldfarb, Dr. Mike Good and Irene Alexaitis, and in Jacksonville from Russ Armistead, Dr. Dan Wilson and Patrice Jones.

Launch of UF Health, Atrium, UF Health Shands Hospital

UF Senior Vice President David Guzick
Speech/Launch of UF Health
Monday, May 20, 2013 (noon)
Atrium, UF Health Shands Hospital

Good afternoon!  To everyone here with us in the Atrium … to our colleagues in Jacksonville tuning in to the livestream … and to all the faculty and staff and others watching remotely from their desktops, laptops or mobile devices, thank you for joining us!

I also want to welcome University of Florida President Bernie Machen. President Machen’s unwavering support of our academic health center has been invaluable to our success and to our growth. Bernie, you’ve been with us every step of the way, and it’s great that you’re with us this afternoon!

Three years ago today, on May 20, 2010, we launched an effort to bring together the Health Science Center and Shands into a single vision, through a strategic plan called “Forward Together.” As a result of that plan, “we and they” have become “us.” Our collaboration has grown and strengthened. And we are now entering a critical new stage.

In recognition of that transformation … a change of state if you will … we have an important announcement to make today. Since this is the YouTube era, we figured that we should make this announcement by video. So please, roll the video!


I think — and I hope you agree — that the video captures the idea that we are reaching a “tipping point.” More on that later, but now, let me give you the fundamentals. I want to try to anticipate your questions, give you some answers, and tell you why I believe this is such an important step for our organization.

Let me begin by making clear that our new name will have no impact on the legal status of the UF Health Science Center and Shands, which remain separate organizations. Shands employees will remain Shands employees, and UF employees will remain UF employees.

At the same time, UF Health is much more than a new name. It’s an avowal that the partnership between our organizations has reached a new stage —and it’s a symbol that will help us shape a new future together.

Our effort to unify the Health Science Center and Shands under one vision has been incredibly successful. Today, our organizations are on the same single path. We’re better at everything we do. We’re not the University of Florida and Shands. We’re not “UF&Shands,” with the ampersand.

We’re greater than the sum of our parts —and we need a new name to go out and greet the world. That name should be, and is, UF Health.

Aligned. Better. On the verge of a tipping point. It’s a simple story, and it all begins with you: The people in this room … our colleagues in Jacksonville … and indeed, every one of our 22,000 employees.

Remarkably, for institutions founded more than a half-century ago, “Forward Together” was the first-ever strategic plan that brought together Shands and the six colleges of the Health Science Center under a single vision.

Before the plan, we often worked alongside each other rather than with each other. The idea behind the plan was that to move forward, we had to work together.  A consistent lesson throughout my career is that people want what’s right. They want to do a great job. They want to help their colleagues. And most of all, they want to make a difference. All we really needed was a little direction —and it wasn’t long after we launched “Forward Together” that we began to see remarkable progress.

HSC researchers and clinicians … and Shands staff members …  began carving out more of their busy schedules for important collaborative projects. Across departments at UF and at Shands, folks in communications, development, information technology, finance and many other areas of our diverse and complex organization reached out to join hands.

Today, collaborations are the norm:

  • HSC faculty and Shands employees work closely together to improve patient safety —for example, by reducing central line infections.
  • A Shands Jax nurse manager works hand-in-hand with a UF Jax faculty surgeon to lead the highly acclaimed intensive care unit of Trauma One.
  • A UF pharmacy professor works with a Shands pharmacy director on innovative methods that make drugs safer.
  • A Shands media relations coordinator tag-teams with her counterpart at the Health Science Center to handle rapid-fire media inquiries.

You can read more about these and many other partnerships in my most recent newsletter. Suffice it to say, the close collaboration between UF and Shands is flourishing, which brings me back to our simple story: Because of you, our paths have come together. And as a result, we have become better at everything we do.

Shands was founded as Florida’s first teaching hospital in 1958, and it has been a beacon for high-quality health care ever since. Our health science center colleges, too, have a long and proud legacy as being among the best in the nation.

Bringing them truly together these past few years, as was intended from the beginning, has been transformational.

The video mentioned a few measures:

  • “Magnet” designation from the American Nurses Credentialing Association.
  • Accolades for patient care quality from the University HealthSystem Consortium.
  • Record growth in research support from the National Institutes of Health.

In fact, our NIH funding across the Health Science Center has increased 15 percent annually over the past two years despite a flat NIH budget. That’s the highest rate of growth in the nation!

Patient safety has improved greatly. There is increasing demand for our services such that our hospitals are filled to overflowing.And in the midst of the worst economic downturn in modern history, our academic health center has grown from 19,000 employees to 22,000 employees.

Well, numbers are one thing. Lives, another.

Dr. David S. Guzick, Senior Vice President, Health Affairs, and President, UF Health I want to tell you just one little story about Health Science Center and Shands teamwork and a 2-year-old boy named Nickolas Bryant. It’s a story about what goes on here every day.

Nickolas and his parents came to our UF pediatric dental clinic just last Tuesday from their home in Palatka. They were referred by a pediatrician after Nickolas developed a severe infection in his mouth that would not respond to the antibiotics he had prescribed.

When our pediatric dentists first saw Nickolas on Tuesday morning, he was in a lot of pain — and the left side of his head was completely swollen. Pediatric dental infections can spread quickly to the brain or throat and can even be fatal if not treated promptly and effectively. Our dentists felt Nickolas was in real danger.

They alerted their colleagues in the Department of Pediatrics  — and Nickolas was admitted to the UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital at about noon. There, our pediatric residents and faculty quickly diagnosed the problem and selected an appropriate antibiotic; and the nursing staff then began intravenous treatment.

Our team of pediatricians, pediatric dentists and nurses monitored Nickolas closely, and by Thursday, the tremendous swelling on the left side of Nikolas’s head had declined. By Friday, it was reduced to a level where Nickolas could be discharged.

He was brought back to the pediatric dental clinic, where our dentists removed the four upper incisors that were the site of the infection. Nickolas went home with a smaller number of teeth —and a much bigger smile.

For Dr. Abi Adewumi, a UF associate professor of pediatric dentistry who cared for Nickolas, a close relationship with her counterparts at the College of Medicine and at Shands was key.

Let me just tell you one thing she said. Quote, “It’s a collaborative effort. If you are going to be able to achieve optimal care, it has to be collaborative.”

Dentists and doctors and nurses working hand-in-hand to prevent a potential tragedy … A little boy’s smile … It brings me back to our simple story. UF and Shands are on the same path. We’re better at everything we do. And it happens every day, in stories like Nickolas’.

And now, with so much momentum behind this partnership, the question before us is this: What will it take to reach that tipping point —that critical moment of irreversible positive change

The answer starts with our new name, UF Health.

We grasp the transformation that has happened here, and it is now our task to showcase it to the world. UF Health makes the most of the widely recognized and respected UF brand. It’s simple. It’s direct. We are confident it will help us tell our story and grow our partnership in our community and our country.

I noted Shands’ proud historic legacy earlier. We will continue to honor that legacy in Gainesville, where Shands will keep its name preceded by UF Health. Our hospital will become, simply, “UF Health Shands Hospital.”

In Jacksonville, Shands has only recent ties, and our extensive consumer research confirms that that people feel good about the UF name —a very important strength in a highly competitive health care marketplace! As a result, our hospital there will be renamed “UF Health Jacksonville.”

As our UF Health name and marketing efforts bring us more attention, the unstoppable momentum behind our partnership, as expressed in the vision statement of Forward Together, will grow and strengthen us. In an era when the University of Florida, led by President Machen, is engaged in a major new push to join the top public universities, that will mean … More demand from patients. Better-quality care. More life-changing research. More life-saving interventions.

Our momentum will mean a tipping point, not only for us, but most important for the patients we serve, patients like 2-year-old Nickolas Bryant.

Because ultimately, today is not really about the UF Health Science Center. It’s not about Shands Hospital. It’s not about the University of Florida. It’s about all of you, working together as colleagues every day, to save lives, help patients, make new discoveries, and train the next generation of clinicians and scientists. That’s what we signed up for when we got into the health care profession. That’s what we are up for as the team that is UF Health.

Thank you, and Go Gators!


Following my speech, which was given in Gainesville and live-streamed to Jacksonville, there were remarks in Gainesville by Tim Goldfarb, Dr. Mike Good and Irene Alexaitis, and in Jacksonville from Russ Armistead, Dr. Dan Wilson and Patrice Jones.

Forward Together,

David S. Guzick, M.D., Ph.D.
Senior Vice President, Health Affairs
President, UF Health