UF Health Shands CEO Ed Jimenez shares his perspectives in each edition of News+Notes. He hits on topics of interest that connect with faculty and staff who provide and support patient care across the Gainesville-based hospital system. You can also read his posts on the “Leaders Online” section of the Bridge.UFHealth.org intranet homepage.
What’s on your mind that you’d like to share with News+Notes readers?
I recently shared these thoughts with our hospital leaders at a Management Forum meeting:
At UF Health, we have the ability to care for patients with the most severe medical issues. The “high-acuity” types of care (for patients with incredibly complex and often life-threatening conditions) we provide and high volumes of patients we manage are astounding.
First, let’s talk numbers. In Gainesville, UF Health Shands is licensed for 1,162 patient beds and we have more than 55,000 patient admissions (excluding newborns) each year. We also get nearly 129,000 annual E.R. and trauma care visits. We will have more than 1 million visits to our UF Health Physicians practices in FY20 and an additional 1.1 million total visits to UF Health Shands hospitals.
We have about 400 intermediate care and ICU beds here in our Gainesville hospitals for patients requiring attentive, critical care … That’s more than the total number of beds in most hospitals and more than the number of intermediate care and ICU beds in Gainesville’s two other hospitals combined! Think about it. Then, let’s consider this: We have about 100 beds for other patients requiring cancer, trauma, transplant and other complex care. So that’s around 500 beds for patients who are really sick. The difficult work you are all doing to support very ill patients is truly incredible.
You have talked about putting our volumes in context. Can you talk about this?
Yes! You have to think about the bigger picture: We treat such complexity in our patient population, but where are our patients coming from? Gainesville only has about 125,000 residents, while Alachua County includes about 250,000 people. Only in some weird alternate universe would Alachua County produce enough ICU and high-acuity patients to fill our critical care beds consistently … So it’s clear UF Health is already a regional resource, drawing patients from all over. (UF Health Shands serves patients from all 67 Florida counties, all 50 U.S. states and several other countries each year.)
It’s logical that people who live close by are most likely to choose us for their care. But the others who come from further away have many choices since they’re willing to drive outside their community. Distance drives decisions. Especially for specialized care, people will temporarily relocate if needed, to ensure their loved one gets the right medical attention. If they’re willing to drive a few hours, they have more choices. UF Health faculty physicians offer the specialized expertise people need. That’s why we connect with other health care systems in the state to establish collaborations that will allow our physicians to work in other communities, bringing their skills to more patients and setting up pathways for patients to more easily access our care here in Gainesville when they need hospitalization.
That explains our recent announcements about UF Health and The Villages® and Central Florida Health.
The recent acquisition allows us more direct involvement with other providers. For instance, we have been working with physicians from the former Central Florida Health hospitals to provide comprehensive stroke care and telestroke services to their patients when needed. Now that we are all part of UF Health, we can further enhance our relationships with these local providers to provide the best possible care for residents of Leesburg and The Villages®. This allows us to take advantage of local strengths while combining them with our academic strengths and expertise. We’re providing UF-level care in these communities. In addition, we opened the UF Health The Villages® Freestanding E.R. earlier this month. This is another example of providing convenient access to high-quality health care in the surrounding communities.
How does this benefit our faculty and staff?
There’s a huge benefit to our health care professionals. Our faculty doctors from the academic setting have different populations available to them at community hospitals, and this access ensures we are not narrowly focused just on critical care. We also get to support expanded education as we develop additional continuing medical education opportunities, primary care physician training programs and other programs for health professionals. The acquisitions also provide more research opportunities in other communities.
It’s also reassuring knowing our families and friends in other parts of Florida have access to UF-level medical care.
We look forward to working together in these different locations with others who share our mission to provide the highest-quality care and the most compassionate attention to the patients we serve.