The Villages and University of Florida Health have announced their intent to develop a comprehensive health care campus that will offer a full portfolio of education, research and advanced health care and wellness services for The Villages community, including construction of a new general acute care hospital.
The Villages seeks to become America’s “healthiest hometown,” and the broad vision will include a variety of UF Health medical practices as well as teaching and research alliances with various UF colleges, such as Dentistry, Health and Human Performance, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Public Health and Health Professions, and Veterinary Medicine, along with associated centers and institutes. UF/IFAS extension programming focused on food and nutrition also will be a highlight.
The Villages and UF Health officials have signed a letter of intent to continue exclusive talks as they work to build a new model for health care in the region. They will meet regularly to more specifically define the relationship over the next several months.
“This alliance is a game-changer as we work together to expand high-quality, compassionate, affordable health care that offers the best possible outcomes,” said David R. Nelson, M.D., senior vice president for health affairs at UF and president of UF Health. “Collectively we share big, bold plans that will bring the advantages of an academic health center across all its missions to the area.
Residents will benefit from top-notch doctors and other health experts while having increased access to the latest medical advances and clinical trials when they need them.
The expansion also provides UF Health with long-needed additional clinical locations to support the training of the next generation of students, medical residents and fellows who will care for residents of Florida, now the third-most-populated state in the nation.
Eventually, the health campus may also include residential facilities for faculty, graduate trainees and health students, as well as space for innovative research that develops products and services for older adults.
Officials say they aim to forge a national model for expanding life expectancy through a healthy, active, continuous learning approach to living. Plans will integrate the educational, research and clinical resources of Florida’s leading university with the unique resources of the largest older adult community in the country.
“We are delighted to be working with the University of Florida to develop a one-of-a-kind medical campus featuring a new state-of-the-art UF Health Hospital strategically located here in The Villages,” said Mark Morse, CEO of The Villages.
UF, the No. 7-ranked public university by U.S. News & World Report, has a comprehensive land-grant mission and a tradition of comprehensive excellence and is seeking to grow access to its exceptional health care services. The public-private collaboration also will further economic development in the state of Florida.
“We at UF are dedicated to serving all the residents of our state, and strengthening our relationship with The Villages offers an amazing opportunity to extend and expand this vital mission in one of Florida’s best-known communities,” said UF President Kent Fuchs. “We look forward to joining The Villages in exploring new and exceptional services across the broad spectrum of healthy living — from health care to wellness to health education and research — creating a model not just for other communities in Florida, but across the entire nation.”
The move complements an existing affiliation agreement the UF Health Shands hospital system has with Central Florida Health and its two hospitals — Leesburg Regional Medical Center and The Villages Regional Hospital — which has emphasized the development of leading-edge patient care programs and access to clinical studies for residents of Lake, Sumter and Marion counties. The focus of that relationship has included laying the groundwork for the creation of primary care physician training opportunities to meet the increasing demand for primary care physicians as the region’s population quickly grows.
UF Health physicians work with Central Florida Health to provide comprehensive stroke care and telestroke services to their patients when needed, offering timely access to the latest technology and the most advanced treatments available, and providing around-the-clock access to consults with a vascular neurologist regarding treatment plans and decisions related to administration of the clot-busting drug tPA for patients who remain in the local area. UF Health also provides educational opportunities, including continuing medical education about the latest in stroke care.
“We’re pleased that Central Florida Health, which owns and operates The Villages hospital as well as the Leesburg hospital, is actively working with University of Florida as part of this exciting commitment to health care excellence,” Morse said.