Field of dreams

Field of dreams

By Jesef Williams

jaxgroundAn open field of green grass was the backdrop as UF Health Jacksonville CEO Russ Armistead greeted the crowd during a special groundbreaking ceremony in November at UF Health North.

The field signified opportunity and growth, as well as a promise to bring robust, comprehensive health care to North Jacksonville. Over the next 18 months, that space will be transformed into a 92-bed inpatient tower that will complement the existing medical office building. Once built, UF Health North will be the only hospital in that area of the city, creating convenience for residents of northern Duval County, Nassau County and Southeast Georgia.

“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,” Armistead said. “The building of the hospital on the UF Health North campus takes that commitment even further.”

UF Health faculty and staff, as well as local elected officials and other community leaders, attended the groundbreaking, which featured remarks and the turning of ceremonial dirt — marking the official start of the hospital construction efforts.

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

Jason Hardwick, director of patient access at UF Health Jacksonville, believes the new hospital will positively impact the surrounding area.

“The Northside is lacking a facility of this magnitude, and this is a huge part of the community,” said Hardwick, who lives in North Jacksonville. “The north is the last side to be built up. This is well-deserved for the community and the organization.”

Kimberly Solomon, case manager at UF Health North, said the new hospital will complement the existing emergency room nicely. Also, many residents in that area won’t have to venture all the way to the Eighth Street campus, which is located near downtown Jacksonville, for services.

“It’s hard for people to travel into the city, especially patients from Georgia,” Solomon said. “They say they’re so happy it’s closer. It’s another great addition for the Northside.”

The new five-story hospital will have all-private rooms and will adjoin the outpatient medical complex. It will feature a 12-bed labor and delivery unit with two operating rooms and an eight-bed women’s services unit, a 24-bed intensive care unit and two separate 24-bed medical/surgical suites. All of the patient rooms will feature soothing tones to enhance the patient experience.

Construction is projected to be complete in mid-2017. The opening of the facility is expected to create 370 new jobs.