The journey to evolve the children’s hospital is part of our overall mission to look at our facilities critically and improve them so our clinical space is on par with the skills of our physicians, nurses and staff, as well as their outcomes. It takes progress over time to get it right. We have an unwavering commitment to quality as Job 1. We have a determined focus on recruiting the right people, including hospital staff and faculty. These things give us great pride. When we receive national recognition, it’s external validation that we’re focused on the right things for our patients.
We recently shared plans for expanding the NICU. In Florida, only three children’s hospitals were included in the recent U.S. News Best Children’s Hospitals list. Several of our UF Health pediatric specialties were on that list — and our neonatology program was ranked 37th nationally. What makes us different are our advanced levels of care, innovation and the combination of UF College of Medicine neonatology and pediatric physicians and nursing and clinical teams. Together, they work magic and produce great results. Our teams care about each other, they’re committed to their work and they impact lives every day. With the NICU renovations next year, we will create a more contemporary space to match their talent and support new technologies.
Every day, our employees strive to be better. The number of nurses who seek additional certification keeps growing, and it’s the same with our support staff. We see it with clinical faculty development. We also see the beneficial impact on pediatric patients through Arts in Medicine and Child Life programs. Partners like the Ronald McDonald House help us assist families as their children receive care. The Children’s Miracle Network, Sebastian Ferrero Foundation and others support us as we pursue creative ways to improve our children’s services.
We’re on a great trajectory. Our clinical research faculty put us on a path to move discoveries to the bedside more quickly than others in the country. Examples include Dwayne Mitchell, M.D., Ph.D.,1 and his leading work on pediatric brain tumors. Michael Weiss, M.D.,2 developed the statewide standard for body cooling to reduce brain damage in babies born with a deficient oxygen supply. Laurel Blakemore, M.D.,3 is nationally regarded for her work in pediatric scoliosis and spine care. Mark Bleiweis, M.D.,4 and team just performed their 17th pediatric heart transplant, which puts us on pace to exceed 30 this year — our most ever in a year — and put us among the nation’s top children’s heart transplant teams for volume. That’s elite company.
You may wonder how it’s possible to have all of this in a small city like Gainesville. These resources are usually found in a metropolitan city, but they are right here at UF Health.
As you read more about our children’s services, I hope you’ll share the pride I have for our great teams who are dedicated to our young patients.