Sixty years ago, the UF Teaching Hospital opened as the first hospital in Florida affiliated with a medical school, the University of Florida’s new College of Medicine. Pausing to celebrate this significant milestone and the birth of what is now UF Health, the Gainesville community can look back on the hospital system’s history and its profound impact on health care not only in Florida, but across the nation and around the world.
Since the hospital first opened its doors on Oct. 20, 1958, UF College of Medicine faculty physicians and UF Health Shands Hospital nurses and staff have treated more than 2.75 million patients. They have opened new hospitals, primary care and specialty medical practices and branched out with affiliations and partnerships to expand their reach, providing highly specialized and complex care to many communities throughout the state.
There have been many changes since 9-year-old Nancy Sue Smith of Williston was admitted as the hospital’s first patient, but one thing has been consistent: the mission to provide the highest level of clinical care and the best possible patient experience with every patient served.
Over the years, UF Health Shands has been at the forefront of many clinical innovations, dating back to 1959, when UF College of Medicine surgeons performed the state’s first open-heart surgery. There have had numerous other firsts over the last six decades, including Florida’s first kidney transplant and first pediatric heart transplant. UF physicians also implanted the nation’s first computerized 20-year rechargeable pacemaker, to name a few milestones.
UF Health Shands has been ranked among the Top 50 in the U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Hospitals” and “Best Children’s Hospitals” lists for numerous years, and the nursing services recently earned a fourth consecutive national Magnet designation from the American Nurses Credentialing Center, the nation’s highest honor for quality nursing care and practice.
While anniversaries are a time to reflect on accomplishments, the goal of the hospital’s 60th celebration is to recognize all the ways that UF Health Shands has always been focused on the future. Imagine what will be accomplished in the next 60 years.