UF Health North
UF Health North is the North Jacksonville campus of UF Health. It’s brand new, strikingly beautiful, and already very busy addressing the health care needs of North Jacksonville residents.
“The customer service was something I had never experienced before in a medical setting. From the moment I pulled up to the front door it almost felt like I was checking into a hotel.” That’s from William Reed, a patient of gastroenterologist Dr. James Scolapio. Mr. Reed is new to northeast Florida, was looking for a gastroenterologist, and found out about UF Health North by searching the web. He was one of the first patients to use the new, state-of-the-art “open MRI” at UF Health North; he also required treatment in the main hospital on 8th Street. He says the service at UF Health is second to none: “They called every day to make sure I was getting the treatment I needed. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone but it couldn’t have gone better. I’ve never had treatment like that before.”
The rationale for our new campus was clear. Although North Jacksonville is a large and growing community, there were no specialty medical services available in the area. Patients from all parts of North Jacksonville, Amelia Island and South Georgia had to travel across the St. Johns River to access such services, whether to see faculty at UF Health Jacksonville, or specialists associated with other Jacksonville hospitals. Moreover, UF Health already had several primary care offices located in North Jacksonville and 38 percent of hospital admissions from North Jacksonville residents were to UF Health Jacksonville on 8th Street.
Thus, our goal in creating a medical facility in North Jacksonville was to provide more accessible health care to a population we were already serving. If you are a resident in the North Jacksonville region, UF Health wants to be your health system — a place where you can turn for all of your health needs. Indeed, even though we just opened, we have already become part of the neighborhood, quickly becoming recognized by North Jacksonville residents as being committed to serving their needs for the long term.
UF Health North has been designed in two phases. We cut the ribbon on Phase 1, shown below, on Feb. 12. While currently an ambulatory facility, it also includes the infrastructure for Phase 2 – a hospital of 92 beds. In designing the ambulatory building, both inside and out, we wanted send a message to North Jacksonville that UF Health is a welcoming place, warm yet forward-looking in outlook. These photos of the building and its interior are quite striking, but truly do not do it justice. If you’re in the neighborhood, which is just southeast of the Jacksonville Airport (15255 Max Leggett Parkway), please check it out! We are grateful to our developer, architect and construction manager — Landmark, Gresham-Smith and Perry-McCall Construction & F.A. Wilhelm Construction, respectively — for executing our vision with fidelity, beauty and technical excellence.
Mrs. Audrey Schiebler has been a long time patient of the UF Family Medicine clinic in Yulee. The convenience to her home and her connection to UF Health are two of the reasons Mrs. Schiebler comes to UF Health for her care, and with the opening of UF Health North that connection will be even stronger. Her husband, Dr. Gerold Schiebler, is the former chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the UF College of Medicine in Gainesville, so Mrs. Schiebler is well-aware of the advantages that the University of Florida brings to medicine in the northeast Florida region.
Mrs. Schiebler visited UF Health North for a podiatry appointment with Dr. Kristin Strannigan. She told us “even though it’s very pretty, I think the draw for me won’t be the building but the people in it. They are all very courteous, very informative and treated me well. They made me feel very comfortable.” Like many people, Mrs. Schiebler says having a new health care facility so close to her is fantastic. “It’s much better for people like me, who live in Fernandina Beach. It’s convenient and I’m getting the same excellent medical care, so I’m very pleased.”
The first two floors of the building, each of which contains approximately 60,000 square feet, are hospital-based: A gracious lobby; a spacious emergency room, which is already caring for 80 to 90 patients per day; an imaging center, which includes not only the open MRI described above but also CT-scanning, PET-scanning, ultrasound, X-ray equipment and a special space for mammography and associated women’s services; five operating rooms, plus shelled space for three more ORs; a pre-op and post-op recovery unit; and clinical pathology. Although these functions are now focused on ambulatory services, when the bed tower opens (hopefully, in about two years), these hospital components will also serve inpatients. Throughout this space, attention has been paid to natural light, warm colors, healing art and other features that create a calming environment for patients and their families.
Floors 3 through 6, each of which contains approximately 20,000 square feet, consist of ambulatory practice offices. Most of these practices are those of UF faculty, but some community practitioners have also leased space. General internal medicine and pediatrics is represented, as well as virtually all specialties. A unique unit is the UF Health Birth Center, operated by UF Health midwives. Currently consisting of two birth suites, this center offers a comfortable, home-like environment where mothers can give birth in a soothing setting with their loved ones and family around them.
Elizabeth Borders knew she wanted to give birth to her first child in a natural setting but, because of insurance and other issues, didn’t have many choices in northeast Florida until UF Health North opened. In fact, she was already about 8 months pregnant when she found out about the natural birth center. Her immediate reaction was “this is awesome.” In fact, Elizabeth said when she and her husband Jamie toured the center for the first time in February she cried. A few weeks later Daisy Cameron Borders, 8 pounds 15 ounces, came into the world.
The family praised center director Cindy Williams, the midwives and the entire staff. Elizabeth says “they really made me feel special. It was perfect.” To others looking for the option of natural birth, Elizabeth says “I don’t think there could be a comparable experience in north Florida. If you’re thinking of this option you have to take a visit.”
A key focus at UF Health North is hospitality and service. All of the faculty and staff who work at UF Health North took the hospitality and service training together. Based on numerous expressions of appreciation by patients and visitors, the principles presented in the in-service training have been embodied by those who work at UF Health North.
The opening of UF Health North has also allowed our organization to highlight the extraordinary service provided by caregivers at our downtown Jacksonville campus. Because the north campus does not have an inpatient unit yet (that’s coming in 2017), patients who need more extensive care are transported to UF Health Jacksonville on 8th Street. One of them was Francine Grade, who was taken to the emergency room at UF Health North and then transferred to a room on 8th Street, which happened to be on our just-renovated fifth floor, which now boasts an entire unit of brand new rooms dedicated to intensive and cardiac care. The rooms are impressive, and as Ms. Grade told us, “not what I expected, and even though I don’t like being in the hospital, I like being here.” Despite the fact that the environment on 8th Street is more complex, interviews with each inpatient transferred from UF Health North have revealed a high level of satisfaction with the care they received.
Excitement is growing about UF Health North. The number of patients we are caring for in our new facility, both in the E.R. and in our faculty offices, is far outpacing our projections. The level of patient satisfaction is very high, as is staff morale. The attached bed tower is currently being designed and is on track to open in 2017. In the coming months and years, we will work hard to follow through on our commitment to the residents of North Jacksonville. We are your neighborhood place for health care.
David S. Guzick, M.D., Ph.D.
Senior Vice President, Health Affairs
President, UF Health