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The Year That Was: Celebrating Our Achievements in 2012, Part 2

In Part 2 of “The Year That Was,” we summarize accomplishments of the centers and institutes on the Health Science Center campus, of our hospital systems in Gainesville and Jacksonville, and of areas that cut across UF&Shands and the University of Florida. Please take a look — while our instinct is to focus on our specific areas of interest and expertise, it may be an eye-opener to realize the breadth and depth of our collective reach.

UF Shands Cancer Center

Director: Paul G. Okunieff, M.D.

The UF Shands Cancer Center enjoyed a year of growth and program expansion of its coordinated, comprehensive approach to cancer care through 11 multidisciplinary cancer programs. Each program meets weekly during multispecialty tumor boards to review new cancer cases and develop comprehensive and coordinated treatment plans personalized to every patient. Nurse navigators are crucial team members, streamlining patient access and communication and coordinating patient care. A new addition is the UF Metastatic Disease Program, a first of its kind led by Roi Dagan, M.D., which accepts patients on the UF&Shands Jacksonville and Gainesville campuses with the goal of treating early metastatic disease with intent to cure using combination therapies, including local therapies such as surgery and stereotactic body radiosurgery. Additionally, to strengthen clinical research initiatives in gynecological cancers, Merry-Jennifer Markham, M.D., was appointed program leader for the UF Gynecological Oncology Program.

Other program expansions include an affiliation agreement with Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare to broaden cancer care options for patients in the Big Bend region; hiring a physicians relations manager in business development to represent and promote UF&Shands cancer services to community physicians; and hiring of a new director for the Clinical Trials Office, leading to a doubling of the number of patients on studies and cutting the time to trial open by half. The UF Shands Cancer Center also is pleased to report that our institution, led by Thomas George, M.D., was successful in achieving American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer Performance re-accreditation this fall.

The Enterade USA teamOur cancer research portfolio continues to grow, as does our new patent disclosures and licenses, with a new product. Enterade USA, led by Sadasivan Vidyasagar, M.D., Ph.D., recently launched a beverage to alleviate gastrointestinal side effects of radiation and chemotherapy. Several faculty have achieved national recognition, including Carmen Allegra, the new editor-in-chief of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, and Maureen Goodenow, Ph.D., who was newly appointed as one of the 13 Jefferson Science Fellows by the U.S. Department of State. John Wingard, M.D., leads our NHLBI/NCI-funded Blood and Marrow Clinical Trials Network, one of only 20 awards nationally, that was re-funded this year.

Clinical and Translational Science Institute

Director: Dave Nelson, M.D.

The CTSI’s support of students, researchers and research teams continues to grow. In 2012, the research of close to 1,000 investigators benefited from CTSI services and resources.

The CTSI Training and Professional Development Program welcomed four new Ph.D. students as TL1 trainees; five junior faculty as KL2 scholars; seven medical fellows and junior faculty as scholars in the Advanced Postgraduate Program in Clinical Investigation; and 14 investigators as inaugural members of the new CTSI Academy of Research Excellence, which was created to promote high-quality, innovative clinical research through programs that emphasize research integrity, ethics and professionalism.

For its two rounds of pilot project funding in 2012, the CTSI received 92 proposals and made 31 one-year awards totaling close to $550,000.

In addition, several new CTSI-supported resources became available over the last year to expand, facilitate and strengthen translational research:

Participant Recruitment

  • As part of the CTSI Study Registry project, the CTSI maintains searchable listings for health research studies that are enrolling participants on the CTSI StudyConnect website and the patient-centric site, both of which launched in 2012.
  • The CTSI helped facilitate the fall pilot of UF Consent2Share, a system-wide initiative to offer patients an opportunity to share tissue left over from their health-care visits for research and/or to be contacted about future research studies (see On the Same Page, December 2012).

Research Infrastructure

  • Supported in part by the CTSI, the UF&Shands Integrated Data Repository team deployed the web-based i2b2 tool and developed an online training module to enable researchers to access IDR data for cohort identification and other research activities. The IDR collects and organizes clinical data from various clinical and administrative systems within the institution to support improved care and research in a secure and HIPAA-compliant environment.
  • In collaboration with the McKnight Brain Institute, the CTSI Human Imaging Core was established in June with the arrival of core director Song Lai, Ph.D.
  • In October, the CTSI Biorepository became one of the first 12 biorepositories in the country to be accredited by the College of American Pathologists.

Translation to Clinical Practice

CTSI Personalized Medicine Program Director Julie A. Johnson and cardiologist R. David Anderson review an alert that appears in a cardiac patient’s electronic medical record when genetic results suggest a prescribed drug may not be effective. (Photo by Jesse Jones/University of Florida)On June 25, the CTSI’s Personalized Medicine Program led the implementation of a new standard of care to routinely screen interventional cardiology patients treated at Shands at UF for genetic variations that might affect how their bodies respond to clopidogrel, a common anticlotting drug. To date, more than 450 patients have been tested for CYP2C19, the genotype that affects how the body responds to clopidogrel. Approximately 22% of the screened patients have genotypes associated with impaired metabolism of clopidogrel and other drugs metabolized by CYP2C19. In collaboration with UF Pathology Laboratories, the program also launched a research study to test the feasibility of using a custom gene chip to safely and efficiently expand personalized medicine at UF&Shands.

Research Collaborations

Thanks to significant groundwork laid in 2012, several collaborative research initiatives supported in part by the CTSI are poised to reach new milestones in 2013: HealthStreet, Health IMPACTS for Florida, the national Hepatitis C Therapeutic Registry and Research Network, development of an integrated metabolomics center based in Florida, and emerging partnerships at Lake Nona with Orlando Health and the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute.

Emerging Pathogens Institute (EPI)

Director: J. Glenn Morris, M.D.

During 2012, EPI has continued to build an international research portfolio in emerging pathogens/infectious diseases, further enhancing UF’s reputation as a top national and international center for research in this field.

  • During 2012, EPI recruited four new research faculty members, including faculty in the colleges of Veterinary Medicine and Public Health and Health Professions. A key recruitment was Dr. David Pascual, an outstanding immunologist and one of the top investigators in the country in the development of new generation vaccines for Brucella, for both humans and livestock.
  • EPI, working in collaboration with the Florida Department of Health, was named in 2012 as one of five national Integrated Centers of Excellence in Food Safety, under terms of the recently enacted federal Food Safety Modernization Act. The Southeastern National Tuberculosis Center, one of six such centers funded nationally by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, had its grant with the CDC renewed for another five years.
  • EPI investigators, working in collaboration with IFAS, have played a key role in assessment of factors underlying the recent collapse of the shellfish ecosystem in Apalachicola Bay.
  • EPI, working with PHHP and IFAS, has been instrumental in the development of a strong research base in the Gressier region of Haiti. Current studies at this site include work on cholera transmission and evolution, chloroquine resistance in malaria, bacterial and viral etiologies of diarrheal disease, and multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis; these studies are linked with work on sanitation, water systems and nutrition.
  • In addition to the studies in Haiti, EPI investigators have collaborations in more than 30 countries, with recent agreements put in place with institutions/investigators in China, Cameroon and Kazakhstan. EPI investigators (Greg Gray, PHHP) organized the 4th International Symposium on Emerging Diseases, held in July in Mongolia.
  • Dr. Daniel Maftei, manager of EPI’s NIH-funded sentinel surveillance for avian influenza in Romania (Greg Gray, PHHP, project PI)Recent papers of interest include work on spatial patterns of anthrax in livestock in Kazakhstan, and Brucella in Botswana (Jason Blackburn, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and colleagues); HIV-1 subtype spatial distribution in Morocco (Robert Cook, PHHP; Marco Salemi, College of Medicine; and colleagues); use of mobile phone data to track malaria transmission in Africa (Andy Tatem, CLAS, and colleagues; published in Science); development of targeted insecticides for Anopheles gambiae, a key vector for malaria in Africa (Jeff Bloomquest, IFAS, and colleagues; work formed the basis for a patent that was just issued); modeling of spread of citrus greening within a citrus tree (Ariena Van Bruggen, IFAS, and colleagues; published in PNAS); and modeling of dengue transmission and control by vaccines in Thailand, and spread of drug-resistant influenza globally (Ira Longini, PHHP/COM, and colleagues).

Genetics Institute

Interim Director: Henry Baker, Ph.D.

2012 was a year in transition for the UF Genetics Institute. In June noted gene therapy pioneer Ken Berns retired after nine years as institute director. In July, Patrick J. Concannon, Ph.D., was named the next director of the UF Genetics Institute. Dr. Concannon was recruited from the University of Virginia and brings with him research expertise in type 1 diabetes, breast cancer, malnutrition and radiation sensitivity. Dr. Concannon will take the helm of the UF Genetics Institute in mid-February 2013.

Sculpture in the lobby of the UF Cancer and Genetics Research ComplexResearch: UF Genetics Institute member Dr. Harry Klee was elected to the National Academies of Science in recognition of his pioneering work aimed at understanding the chemical and genetic make-up of “flavor” in fruits and vegetables.

To facilitate interactions and synergies among geneticists across campus, the UF Genetics Institute initiated monthly open houses to highlight the diverse genetics research occurring on the UF campus. Each open house features four laboratories, one from the College of Liberal Arts and Science, one from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, one from the College of Medicine and one from an affiliated laboratory in another unit of the University such as the Natural History Museum.

In collaboration with the Institute of Food and Agriculture Science and the College of Liberal Arts and Science, the UF Genetics Institute commissioned a major renovation and upgrade of its environmental growth chambers located on the fifth floor of the Cancer and Genetics Research Complex.

Education: The Genetics and Genomics Ph.D. program continues to grow and mature. Four students were awarded their Ph.D. degrees from this intercollegiate program. This past year Drs. Connie Mulligan (CLAS) and Jorg Bungert (COM) took over as co-directors of the Genetics and Genomics Ph.D. program, which had been headed by Wilfred Vermerris (CALS).

Service: Every year the Genetics Institute sponsors the Florida Genetics Symposium. The 2012 symposium attracted 332 registrants and 130 poster presentations. The first day of the symposium was dedicated to Ken Berns and featured several of his students and collaborators, who along with others have been instrumental in establishing adeno-associated virus (AAV) as the premier gene therapy vector in use today. The keynote speaker was Nobel laureate David Baltimore from the California Institute of Technology, who delivered the keynote address, titled “AAV to the Rescue.”

Once again the Florida Genetics Symposium was coupled with an art exhibit related to genetics created by students from the College of Fine Arts.

Institute on Aging

Director: Marco Pahor, M.D.

2012 has been an outstanding year for the UF Institute on Aging, one characterized by major accomplishments such as new NIH awards, the initiation of a new research program focusing on cognitive aging and successful continuation of ongoing projects. In addition, we have an extensive multifaceted training program involving more than 300 trainees at all levels, and a rapidly growing patient care enterprise.

UF Pepper Center Award: In 2012 The UF Institute on Aging has received almost $5.2 million from the National Institute on Aging in renewed support of the UF Pepper Older Americans Independence Center. The prestigious five-year award funds studies to better understand the biological and behavioral processes that lead to physical disability in older adults, and to develop and test disability prevention and rehabilitation therapies. The new award comes on the heels of a five-year $3.9 million grant that established Florida’s first Pepper Center at UF in 2007. UF is one of just 15 in the nation to receive the award, which is named for the late Claude D. Pepper, a U.S. senator-turned-representative from Florida. Pepper advocated for the rights of the elderly and championed laws aimed at improving the health and well-being of older Americans.

Research funding: In 2012 a total of 31 grants in clinical, translational and basic research funded primarily by the NIH or other peer-reviewed funding agencies have been conducted at the Institute on Aging facilities. The total annual cost in of these grants was $35.6 million and the total multi-year award amount was $117.5 million. We have a very rich pipeline of 26 pending grants (total cost $24 million), and 26 grants in preparation ($77.2 million) to be submitted shortly, all of which hold the promise of further future success.

Dr. Ronald Cohen joined UF on July 1 from the Brown University School of Medicine to lead the new Cognitive Aging and Memory Clinical Translational Research Program (CAM-CTRP), which is supported by an endowed fund from the McKnight Brain Research Foundation. Dr. Cohen brings unique expertise and experience to the study of cognitive aging and memory, which will be a critical complement to the ongoing basic, clinical and translational science at the Institute on Aging and McKnight Brain Institute.

The Clinical Translational Research Building under construction.A “topping out” ceremony for the Clinical and Translational Research Building, which includes the Institute on Aging, was held in May, attracting much publicity and community attention. Completion should occur by March 2013. The $15 million C06 construction grant for the Institute on Aging component of the CTRB, awarded by NIH in January 2010, was supplemented by a $30 million bond for the CTSI component, to be paid by funds recovered from indirect costs at the College of Medicine and College of Public Health and Health Professions.

The Institute on Aging translational research center at Lake Nona officially opened on November 30, 2012. This new facility, in connection with the UF Clinical and Translational Science Institute, will expand the catchment area for the UF clinical research studies to the greater Orlando area and Central Florida.

Dr. Pahor, in collaboration with Dr. Bruno Vellas (Toulouse, France) and Dr. Roger Fielding (Boston) organized the 2nd International Conference on Sarcopenia Research, which was sponsored by the Global Aging Research Network of the International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics in collaboration with the World Health Organization. An international group of experts on age-related muscle loss convened in Orlando in December to explore the underlying causes and possible interventions for sarcopenia (loss of skeletal muscle mass, quality and strength associated with aging), one of the most noticeable and disabling consequences of aging.

McKnight Brain Institute

Executive Director: Tetsuo Ashizawa, M.D.

The McKnight Brain InstituteThe MBI developed its vision, mission statement and strategic plans. The MBI has started well-orchestrated implementation of research strategic plans focusing on five highly collaborative translational programs in five areas of strength: 1) the Age-Related Memory Loss Program, 2) the Brain & Spinal Cord Injury Program, 3) Addiction Research, 4) the Brain Tumor Program and 5) the Neurodegenerative Disease Program. The MBI provided matching funds for the Lillian Wells Foundation gift and recruitment efforts to support brain tumor research in the Department of Neurosurgery. The MBI has also become a venue of the new Wilder Center for Epilepsy Research last year. In all of these programs the MBI has expanded its partnerships with the Institute on Aging, the Clinical and Translational Science Institute, Malcom Randall VA Medical Center, Genetic Institute, and departments of several UF colleges, as well as several extramural institutions.

Many enhancements to our research environment were completed this year to establish an unsurpassed research environment. The MBI purchased and upgraded several shared instruments, such as a live cell microscope, a next-generation sequencer, behavioral and telemetry equipment, and magnetic resonance imaging instruments. In collaboration with the Clinical and Translational Science Institute and the Cancer Center, the MBI started a clinical research imaging facility taking advantage of its MRI capabilities.

The MBI worked closely with the College of Medicine for implementation of transparent research space assignment, which involved some renovations of the MBI facilities. The MBI also provided funds for pilot studies, faculty recruitment/development packages and key core facilities. As a result, MBI faculty increased their extramural grant funding by 5%.

Shands HealthCare (Shands Teaching Hospital and Clinics)

CEO: Timothy M. Goldfarb, M.H.A.

The year 2012 was filled with many new initiatives to benefit our patients treated at Shands at UF, the Shands Hospital for Children at UF, the Shands Cancer Hospital, Shands Rehab and Shands Vista, and to support all our dedicated staff who do outstanding work on their behalf.

Community Critical Response: We began the year by responding to a tragic, multi-vehicle accident on I-75 that occurred in the early morning hours on a Sunday and brought multiple patients and their loved ones to our Shands Critical Care Center Level I Trauma Center. Numerous teams were called in and our staff demonstrated their commitment and compassion while caring for these patients and their families. Our UF&Shands teams were recognized by the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office for their swift, organized and compassionate response and support.

Shands Wellness Initiative: With a renewed focus on employee health and wellness, the Shands at UF Wellness Council offered its first ever wellness event in 2012, which included screenings, a health assessment and incentives for employees to participate. Results are being used to create workplace programs to reduce priority health risks and focus on nutrition, diabetes, weight and exercise.

Recruitment & Professional Development: Over the course of the year, Shands HealthCare recruited several dynamic new administrative leaders at the director and associate vice president level to lead their departments with a focus on collaboration across UF&Shands and support of our Forward Together strategic plan — quality, safety and patient satisfaction. To foster these goals, UF&Shands launched the Collaborative Executive Talent Development Program to bring together high-performing, high-potential leaders within the UF College of Medicine and Shands HealthCare in a challenging learning environment. The curriculum includes three full-day workshops facilitated by trainers from Harvard University Center for Continuing Professional Education. The first cohort involved 21 participants (10 from Shands, 11 from UF) and the current cohort includes 12 staff from each entity.

Clinical Quality & Patient Safety: This past year, we were pleased to establish the Sebastian Ferrero Office of Clinical Quality and Patient Safety at UF&Shands. In July, we hosted our second annual Quality Retreat, bringing together diverse teams from throughout the UF College of Medicine, Health Science Center colleges of Pharmacy and Nursing, and Shands Nursing, Operations and core services teams to further develop core quality goals and promote compliance and safety throughout the UF&Shands community. We updated our Big Aims goals for the coming year, under the areas of Reduce Harm, Reduce Variation, Enhance the Patient Experience, and Transform Our Culture. Overall patient satisfaction survey score increased by nearly 4% in 2012, reflecting our continued focus on quality and the patient experience.

Throughout 2012, patient units at Shands at UF were recognized for outstanding results in reduction of hospital-acquired infections. In December, the 4 East surgical intensive care unit at the Shands Cancer Hospital received an achievement award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Critical Care Societies Collaborative for reducing hospital-acquired infections. Shands is the only facility in Florida to receive the award, and one of only 12 nationwide.

Rankings: Shands at UF once again was recognized in the U.S. News & World Report America’s Best Hospitals report, earning top-50 rankings in seven specialties: urology; cardiology and heart surgery; neurology and neurosurgery; pulmonology; nephrology; cancer; and gastroenterology. Shands Hospital for Children at UF was recognized among the nation’s best in seven medical specialties in the 2012-13 U.S. News Best Children’s Hospitals rankings. Three of the interdisciplinary UF and Shands pediatric programs were ranked highest in the state — diabetes and endocrinology, cardiology and heart surgery and gastroenterology. Shands Hospital for Children also ranked in nephrology, pulmonology, neonatology and neurology and neurosurgery.

Finance: Shands HealthCare had higher patient volumes than expected in 2012 and operating expenses remained within budgets, resulting in a very strong financial year. Shands at UF was reaffirmed with an “A” credit rating and “Stable” long-term outlook by Standard & Poor’s Rating Services, which is a positive indication of Shands’ financial stability and opportunity for future growth.

Local Service Expansion & Growth: Local expansion to provide convenient and easily accessible services throughout the community enabled us to build on existing programs for area residents. Two new sites for UF&Shands Family Medicine opened at Main Street and in Jonesville. These new locations supported our goals to enhance access to primary care services for residents in our community by selecting sites close to where people live and work. In December, we opened UF&Shands at Springhill in northwest Gainesville, a new four-story, 108,000-square-foot building that includes several UF Physicians specialty practices as well as a new multidisciplinary breast care center and Shands radiology and lab services.

Regional Affiliations: On a regional level, we continued to foster several important partnerships with other health organizations to expand our reach to other communities throughout Florida. UF&Shands continued our ongoing collaboration with Orlando Health to position each of our organizations for improved regional patient care under health care reform and to explore opportunities for developing joint clinical programs. We also continued to expand our heart and stroke partnership with Health Management Associates by including other HMA hospitals throughout Florida in the alliance. Recently, Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare and UF&Shands announced an affiliation to expand cancer care options for patients in the Big Bend region and bring world-class cancer care to Tallahassee.

Shands Jacksonville

CEO: James R. Burkhart, D.Sc., M.H.A.

There were many achievements on the Jacksonville campus in 2012 — from awards for quality and efficiency to openings of new clinics and renovated units to expand our services. Some of those were summarized in Part 1. Here are just a few more examples.

The University HealthSystem Consortium named Shands Jacksonville a “Rising Star” in 2012. To receive the designation, an organization has to move up at least 20 spots in UHC’s annual hospital rankings. Shands Jacksonville also earned a four-star rating from UHC, ranking 19th out of 116 facilities, up from 44 the previous year. Shands Jacksonville is first nationally among academic hospitals in the management of supply costs per patient and fourth in a calculated ratio of expected cost to actual cost per patient. And finally, according to a UHC-defined mortality measurement, Shands Jacksonville improved its ranking from 34th-best nationally in 2010-11 to eighth-best in 2011-12.

September marked the opening of the Total Care Clinic, creating a one-stop location for patients who participate in the “City Contract” program with the city of Jacksonville. With the goal of increasing patient interaction and expanding clinical and social services under one roof, the consolidation is projected to save the organization millions over the long term while providing the most comprehensive, preemptive health services possible for city contract patients. The model for the Total Care Clinic is based on the work we are already doing in our primary care practices, which have received Level 3 designation by the National Committee for Quality Assurance.

Like its sister hospital in Gainesville, facility improvements at Shands Jacksonville never stop. In the spring the reopening of 8 North was celebrated after significant renovation. This unit serves trauma, general surgery and bariatric surgery patients. Rooms were designed to feel more like being in a hotel rather than a hospital. We also continue with renovations to our Emergency Department, which now includes more private rooms for patients in the flex care area. Construction has also begun on a new entrance to our Pediatric Emergency Department.

On Jan. 2, Jim Burkhart announced he would be leaving Shands Jacksonville to become CEO of Tampa General. We are very grateful for his unwavering commitment and superb service to Shands Jacksonville during his tenure here. Jim’s reflections are as follows: “As I look back over my time at Shands Jacksonville, there is so much to be proud of. In the more than 10 years since I’ve been here, we have taken a hospital on the verge of bankruptcy and made it financially stable, which is evidenced by our significant improvement in investment grade rating by Moody’s Investors Service.

Our quality outcomes also demonstrate the hard work of senior leaders, physicians and staff. The UHC honors are but a few examples. We also earned the Florida Governor’s Sterling Award twice and were the first stroke program in North Florida to receive accreditation as a Comprehensive Stroke Center from the Agency for Health Care Administration. The list goes on.

While I am proud of these and so many other accomplishments, what I will remember most are the people. The time, passion and dedication they give to our mission are inspiring. To all of them, I would like to say: You amaze me. What you do here each and every day is so important, to our patients, to our community and to one another. I am truly grateful not only to have been your leader, but to have been one of you. Always remember that UF&Shands Jacksonville is poised for great things. I will. Thank you for the opportunity!”

Accomplishments across UF&Shands and the University of Florida

GatorCare: The goal of GatorCare, our self-insured program for employee health services, is to provide integrated health care to our employees in a manner that emphasizes prevention, early diagnosis, and treatment plans that keep patients out of the ED and hospital. During this past year, a great deal of effort across many UF units, led by Paula Fussell, vice president for human resources, resulted in a portfolio of health care plan options for employees affiliated with UF. GatorCare includes six UF Physicians family medicine practices, internal medicine, ob/gyn, pediatrics, more than 30 specialty services, and a robust GatorCare physician network, which includes faculty and community physicians that provide our employees with diverse choice. GatorCare launched in both Gainesville and Jacksonville on Jan. 1, and early feedback is quite favorable. Please let us know if you encounter any difficulties or have any suggestions for improvement. Our hope is that GatorCare can be extended to UF faculty and staff in the future. This is a matter to be decided by the Florida Legislature and the Governor. Of course, those enrolled in UF plans can become Gator Advantage patients by utilizing the clinical faculty and facilities of UF&Shands. We also launched the academic health center’s first integrated website,, which significantly enhances the information available to patients online. From provider and location directories, to access to an electronic medical record (MyChart) and a health encyclopedia, to requests for appointments, patients are able to easily navigate the site with a wealth of information at their fingertips.

Development: Alumni and friends of UF&Shands showed their support for the missions of our academic health center by contributing $36,515,545 in cash and pledge payments and $47,687,190 in new pledges during 2012. Due to the superb work of our development team, we finished the Florida Tomorrow Campaign with all areas of UF&Shands reaching and exceeding their goals. Indeed, the last six months of the campaign included the largest gift to the College of Nursing in its history, several key gifts to the Medical Education Building, a significant scholarship gift and a new endowed professorship from a grateful patient. The UF&Shands development team is now officially working together under one roof in the 1329 Building. The Children's Miracle Network, including Dance Marathon, had a record year.

Public Affairs/Government Relations: This past year continued to prove challenging at the state and federal levels for funding support. Our Public Policy, Government Relations, Communications and leadership teams from Shands, the UF College of Medicine and UF main campus collaborated closely on advocacy efforts at the state and federal level to mitigate proposed Medicaid funding reductions, GME funding cuts and reductions to support for cancer and pediatric care. We partnered with state and federal organizations and locally we engaged employees to participate in grassroots advocacy programs and email writing campaigns.

Information Technology: A large number of important IT projects were advanced or completed in 2012. For Epic, IT upgraded the core system, brought Jacksonville hospital live, worked with Epic to improve clinic functionality and registration/billing for the faculty practices in Gainesville and Jacksonville, and met the federal “meaningful use” criteria for our hospitals, yielding $12.4 million of federal incentive payments. Clinical and translational research, as well as patient quality initiatives, were supported by: 1) establishing an Integrated Data Repository with de-identified data for access by researchers; 2) integrating patient consent for re-contact and tissue storage into patient registration workflows; 3) integrating data from our growing bio-repository; and 4) linking UF clinical trials to the identification of patient cohorts. Progress is being made — albeit with some understandable hiccups along the way — in achieving the goal of creating efficiencies in IT support without compromising quality of service: In Jacksonville, the IT teams from the hospital and faculty practice was merged, and in Gainesville the College of Dentistry, Department of Medicine, ENT and Urology IT teams (and soon the College of Veterinary Medicine) are now part of Academic Health Center IT. Other projects of note are IT’s contribution to the new, award-winning website noted above, and collaborative work with UF to facilitate Shands’ use of Microsoft Outlook/Office and the new PeopleSoft system. Finally, the physical location of IT personnel were rearranged in Gainesville to create team-based working environments to provide better support for users on our main campus and at many new offsite locations.

Self-Insurance Program: Professional and general liability protections provided by the Self-Insurance Program at UF, or SIP, are additional components of our global operation that safeguard thousands of faculty, residents, students, clinics, hospitals and other members of our health centers in Gainesville, Jacksonville and throughout Florida. New SIP administrator Randall Jenkins has successfully focused on creating new efficiencies and operating reductions to complement the recent legislative immunity afforded to Shands. This immunity reduces large claim awards against our health systems while allowing SIP to address meritorious claims. Legislative immunity produced annual premium reductions of nearly $13 million. These premium savings were further bolstered by over $2 million in SIP operating savings, resulting in a $15 million annual premium savings for our participants. Simultaneously in 2012, SIP achieved many peer-reviewed research and education successes, supporting the university's research and education mission. SIP’s disclosure of adverse events and proactive claim management program received international recognition from peer-reviewed audiences, including the International Conference of Health Communication and the International Disclosure of Medical Errors Conference. Our providers also benefited from complimentary medical-legal continuing education web-based courses created by SIP staff, including the “Prevention of Medical Errors” courses that meet state of Florida continuing education license renewal requirements for all physicians, pharmacists and dentists. Also in 2012, a collaborative program involving academic insurance and providers working together to improve safety began to honor the retirement of SIP administrator W. Martin Smith. The Smith Awards fund interdisciplinary research projects every December and June that are designed by our providers to reduce adverse events and claims. In the first year, 13 Smith Awards were conferred between the Gainesville and Jacksonville campuses.

UF&Shands Communications: The staff of UF&Shands Communications provided systemwide support on many major initiatives in Gainesville and Jacksonville, including the launch of the award-winning website and communications outreach for GatorCare. Constructed entirely in-house and launched June 4, the website ties together more than 8,700 pages of provider profiles, health topic encyclopedia entries, care locations, research studies and clinical trials, news, events, videos, and more. In addition to the updated look and feel, the most dramatic feature of the new website is how it pulls together information for the visitor. The content theory takes inspiration from a modern web technology: the semantic web. To this end, makes connections. In more strategic terms, the website pulls together pieces of related information directly matched to the content a visitor is currently viewing.

We also worked with a new advertising agency, Capstrat, to prepare for the launch of an exciting new branding/advertising campaign later this year. Major marketing campaigns of 2012 focused on the rollout of free parking, the launch of and, the stroke program, cancer services, OrthoCare and primary care/family medicine. The opening of the Total Care Clinic and introduction to the Patient Experience, which reminds us that patients and families must always come first in delivering high-quality health care, are just two of many examples in which leadership has depended heavily on the expertise of communications staff for reaching our various internal and external audiences.

UF&Shands Communications also worked to support key goals of the Sebastian Ferrero Office of Clinical Quality and Patient Safety, including the redesign of the Q Report, our newsletter focused on sharing important information about clinical quality and patient safety. Our media relations team played a critical role in the response to the I-75 mass-casualty accidents. In addition, the team produced more than 110 state and national news releases, garnering coverage in key publications such as ABC News, the Associated Press, CNN, Good Morning America, The Scientist, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and others, including major metro outlets throughout Florida. Our national consumer radio programs, Health in a Heartbeat and Animal Airwaves, continued to attract interest; most recently, Animal Airwaves was picked up to air through the Armed Forces Network Radio to our troops around the world. In addition, our advancement communications team supported a variety of initiatives on behalf of development and alumni affairs.

UF&Shands Florida Recovery Center: The FRC, which has the largest group of faculty in the United States specializing in addiction medicine and addiction psychiatry, celebrated the opening of its new Southwest Campus on 13th Street about a mile south of the Health Science Center. This new facility serves clients from 40 states, with spacious accommodations for recovering individuals enrolled in programs for health professionals, iatrogenic addictions, and dual disorders, including depression, pain management and eating disorders. The new FRC campus has helped the addiction research and outcomes programs as well as the clinical programs at Vista, and has also served as an essential referral source for patients who need long-term treatment.

UF Research and Academic Center at Lake Nona: This $53 million 106,000-square-foot facility, which opened Nov. 30, brings to the Orlando area vital research on new therapies and cures, increased opportunities for participation in clinical research and enhanced access to professional and graduate pharmacy education. The UF College of Pharmacy’s Center for Pharmacometrics and Systems Pharmacology, housed at the new facility, is among the first in the nation to adopt sophisticated mathematical modeling and computer simulations to mimic clinical trials of new drugs. Simulated trials allow researchers to avoid investing unnecessarily in drugs that are unlikely to be of benefit. Such research complements the education efforts of the College of Pharmacy; the new facility will expand the UF professional Pharm.D. program in the Orlando region from 200 students to 280 over four years, and will also accommodate doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows. The UF Institute for Therapeutic Innovation, supported by about $40 million in funding, primarily from the National Institutes of Health, focuses on developing and testing new treatments and cures for a variety of infectious diseases caused by drug-resistant pathogens. This work has far-reaching implications for the practice of medicine, notably with respect to surgeries and organ transplantation, procedures that rely heavily on infection control. Finally, the first floor of the new facility contains space for clinical trials to be conducted by the UF Institute on Aging and the CTSI, which will allow thousands of Floridians to take part in clinical and translational research studies in Orlando.

What a year! We can all be proud of these tremendous accomplishments. In the next issue of On the Same Page, I will discuss our goals for 2013.

Forward Together,

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

About the author

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

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