Greetings to all and welcome to my first contribution to the University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville e-newsletter!
I want to sincerely and wholeheartedly thank the hundreds of people who have welcomed me and helped with my transition to the UF Health Jacksonville campus. I am deeply impressed with everyone here and definitely feel like part of the family.
Before arriving, I was already thrilled about what awaited at UF Health. But after being here for two months and now getting around our enterprise, I am even more excited by the opportunities to deliver excellent patient care, educate the next generation of health care professionals and engage in discovery, innovation and groundbreaking research. While there are many issues to tackle in the coming months, the following are just a few of my immediate priorities.
Learning about the community
I spent just shy of 20 years at Emory University and Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta. I knew the people, the places, the ins and outs and the neighborhoods like the back of my hand. One great thing about a new position is the chance to learn about the opportunities, challenges and the community. Over the next several months, I will spend as much time as possible talking to people, visiting our vast enterprise and learning about Jacksonville. Please share your individual and collective knowledge with me so we all can continue to make this a great place to provide care.
Building the leadership team
We have great academic department chairs and are nationally recruiting others. In addition to the open chair position in the department of ophthalmology, the newly created department of urology allows us to recruit an inaugural chair who will set the vision and provide the necessary leadership for a talented group of physicians and staff.
Dr. Barry McCook, who served as chair of radiology for six years, recently announced his retirement, effective April 7. We thank Dr. McCook for his many years of leadership, and while we are happy for him, it creates an opening in his department we will need to fill. Another senior leader, Dr. Skip Wilson, will be retiring in June. As such, we are recruiting a new senior associate dean for clinical affairs and president of UFJPI.
Lastly, there’s a great opportunity to grow research on this campus and we will shortly begin a national search for a senior associate dean for research. While it’s certainly a challenge to recruit for multiple high-profile positions simultaneously, I look forward to adding new leaders to our great teams. Many thanks to Dr. Guy Benrubi and Eric Conde in helping lead our recruitment efforts.
Expanding at the north campus
We have a great opportunity to strengthen and enhance the UF Health brand with the new north campus. The medical office building and Emergency Room have performed exceedingly well and we look forward to the May 16 opening of the new 92-bed tower. I am working closely with hospital and academic leadership to ensure we have clinical staff ready to go on opening day, which is rapidly approaching.
I have had the opportunity to walk through the new inpatient bed tower. It is absolutely gorgeous and will be one of the most advanced hospitals in the country. I love taking off from Jacksonville International Airport and being able to see our health system, our people and our brand, and I can’t wait until we are ready to go in full.
Championing the tri-part academic mission
Along with our outstanding clinical care work and emerging research portfolio, the third part of our mission is to educate. In addition to training those in “medicine” — such as students, residents and fellows — we also have nursing and pharmacy students learning on our campus. As health care increasingly becomes a team sport, being able to train individuals from multiple disciplines on the same campus is really a hidden gem for this campus and for the region. I will work closely with our education leaders to support and enhance our programs, as well as learn where opportunities lie.
Creating strategic alliances
One of the keys to our unique institution is that we interact with a large number of essential stakeholders. I am working with Russ Armistead and Dr. David Guzick — through the help of our Communications, Development and Governmental Affairs teams — on meeting and developing key alliances across the city and state to help strengthen our enterprise. Those alliances range from city officials, community leaders and philanthropists to state legislators in Tallahassee. In an increasingly complex local and national health care environment, they are all critical to our future.
Once again, thanks for the warm welcome. I am happy and excited to be at UF Health Jacksonville and look forward to working with you in helping achieve our multifold mission.
Leon L. Haley Jr., M.D., M.H.S.A., CPE, FACEP