UF Health North: Breaking Ground for a New Hospital

UF Health NorthTake a look at the above picture. The building on the right is the UF Health North ambulatory center in North Jacksonville. As described in the April 16th edition of On the Same Page, this beautiful facility has been serving North Jacksonville residents since Feb. 17th; both clinical volumes and levels of patient satisfaction have far surpassed our most optimistic projections. The building on the left is its future partner — a new hospital.

For people living between the Florida-Georgia line and the St. Johns River, there is no hospital in that region other than our downtown Jacksonville facility on Eighth Street. The large number of visits to our Emergency Room at UF Health North, and to our physicians who occupy four floors of patient care offices there, reflect a huge unmet need for community-based medical services in North Jacksonville. Building this hospital in North Jacksonville has been a dream for many — for our faculty, the North Jacksonville community, the UF Health Jacksonville board and hospital administration, and our leaders in the city of Jacksonville. Joyously, after spending several years clearing a number of hurdles, we broke ground for this new hospital on Nov. 16th.

Over the next 18 months, what is now an open field of green grass will be transformed into a 160,000-square-foot, 92-bed inpatient tower that is linked with the ambulatory center. Once built, UF Health North will be the only hospital in that part of the city, creating convenient health care access for residents of northern Duval County, Nassau County and Southeast Georgia.

By design, the UF Health North campus has proceeded in two steps: Phase 1 was the ambulatory center, and Phase 2 is the hospital. Knowing that we planned to add the hospital facility at the time that Phase 1 was designed and constructed, we actually included much of the functionality of a hospital in Phase 1. The emergency department, imaging facilities, operating rooms, clinical pathology and other services constructed for the ambulatory center under Phase 1 were built to hospital specifications and are of sufficient size to accommodate the needs of an inpatient bed tower. Thus, the hospital that will now be constructed in Phase 2 will utilize many of the facilities and services that were already created in Phase 1.

The lobby of the new hospital will echo the aesthetics of its adjoining ambulatory center and will feature a chapel, boutique gift shop, full-service cafeteria and additional meeting spaces. Ancillary and support services, including Pharmacy and Supply Chain Services, will also be located on the first floor of the new hospital.

Upper floors will have private patient rooms throughout. The second floor will be focused on women’s health. Specifically, there will be an obstetrical unit with 12 birthing suites: i.e., labor, delivery, recovery and postpartum will occur in the same suite, with space for family. This obstetrical unit will complement the midwifery-based birthing center in the ambulatory center. Eight additional beds on the second floor will be for women recovering from gynecologic surgery or for other women’s health needs.

Floor 3 will be a 24-bed intensive care unit, which will serve patients with acute illnesses admitted through the emergency room and for postoperative patients requiring intensive care as part of their recovery process. Floors 4 and 5 will consist of two 24-bed medical/surgical units. The patient rooms on each of the floors were designed to be spacious and functional. Suggestions from physicians and nurses, as well as front-line staff, were integral to the design of these units, helping to ensure efficient workflows and patient care. Full-scale mockups of the patient rooms were used during the design process to make final modifications.

Patient rooms at UF Health North will allow for ample natural light and views, with most rooms overlooking the rooftop garden and wetlands. Artwork depicting Florida’s natural landscape, comfortable furnishings and space for family members will all help promote a serene healing environment. Each room will also feature advances such as video conferencing and interactive footwalls that provide patient information and entertainment. The interiors throughout the bed tower will complement the much-celebrated interior design of the ambulatory center, using soothing tones with Florida themes to enhance the patient experience.

“To have an entity like UF Health fight so hard to come to the Northside, to see that level of commitment, that really means something to the residents up here,” said Jacksonville Aviation Authority CEO Steve Grossman. “This is a big deal.This is a sign of growth. It’s something the Northside has been waiting for for a long time.”

Construction of the new hospital bed tower is projected to be completed in mid-2017. More than 370 jobs are expected to be created with the opening of the hospital. As UF Health Jacksonville CEO Russ Armistead remarked at the groundbreaking: “We’ve always embraced our mission to heal, comfort, educate and discover. And we’ve dedicated our work to improving the lives of those we touch through quality health care, medical education, innovation and research. The building of the hospital on the UF Health North campus takes that commitment even farther.”

Daniel R. Wilson, M.D., Ph.D., dean of the UF College of Medicine – Jacksonville, expressed a perspective that serves as a fitting closing thought: “Today is truly a groundbreaking. Not just with shovels moving dirt, but in ways that reflect the literal meaning of the word: innovative, fresh, unprecedented, inventive,” he said. “These words capture the essence of UF Health North, from the spectacular architecture to the new array of services available.”

The Power of Together,

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