UF Health on course to raise its rankings
Published: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 at 6:43 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 at 6:43 p.m.
At a time when most of the University of Florida’s colleges and departments were cutting budgets and holding off on new hires, UF Health recruited new faculty, built new clinical and research facilities and secured grants for groundbreaking projects.
That growth is a sign that the five-year strategic plan implemented in 2010 is on course, said Dr. David Guzick, senior vice president for health affairs and president of UF Health.
The plan, dubbed “Forward Together,” was designed to underscore and strengthen the collaboration between the university’s Health Science Center and Shands Hospital. That merging of institutions was symbolized in May when UF&Shands was renamed UF Health.
Although they remain two distinct legal entities, the six colleges of the UF Health Science Center work in tandem with the hospital system’s two hospitals, emergency clinics and medical centers.
“The initial goal for the first year was to get from ‘we’ and ‘they’ to ‘us’. That was a key thing,” Guzick said. “Whether you measure success in jobs or grant support or the patients we see ... it has to do with the fact the faculty and health system are working in partnership toward common goals.”
UF Health’s five-year mission is to be among the top 10 percent of peer hospitals in safety and quality measures, to create at least 10 top-10 research programs, and to increase the amount of research money it receives and spends.
The plan also seeks to make UF Health a national model for education in health sciences and health professions, to expand the academic health center with new sources of revenue, and to promote educational quality and diversity, community health, and faculty recruitment.
This year alone, the six colleges that make up the Health Science Center have hired 228 new faculty, 60 percent of the 384 new hires for the entire university.
“The new faculty hires are consistent with what we’ve seen over the years across the health center and clinical faculty,” Guzick said.
That’s a fraction of the nearly 3,000 staff, faculty, physicians and residents hired by Shands Health Systems and the UF Health Science Center, bringing the total employment to 22,000, he said.
“We are contributing to the area’s economic development at a time when state dollars were declining,” Guzick said. “All of this is from clinical enterprise and research.”
UF Health set a goal to spend $580 million in improvements over five years — about $230 million on research, educational and clinical buildings, $200 million on new research programs, $110 million on improvement of clinical services and $40 million on education programs.
Those improvements are to be financed by a combination of private donations, research grants and clinical revenue from patient billing.
So far, UF Health has raised $133 million in private donations for an average of $44 million a year for the last three years.
Its research portfolio stands at $361 million, or 56 percent of all research revenue at UF. The College of Medicine received $111 million from the National Institutes of Health in 2012, up from $95 million the previous year.
“NIH funding is remarkably important to the university’s mission, particularly to the Health Science Center,” said David Norton, vice president for research at UF. “We are making progress toward our goal of increasing funding in that area.”
The goal is always to increase that amount, he said, but the federal sequestration has made it challenging. Nonetheless, Norton said, the Health Science Center has made “strategic investments to increase our research portfolio.”
UF Health has made progress with its clinical capital improvement program, spending $200 million in clinical facilities that include a pediatric emergency room in the north tower of UF Health Shands Hospital, a freestanding emergency room and the UF Health Springhill on Northwest 39th Avenue, and renovations at other existing facilities.
New research facilities since 2010 include the recent opening of the $45 million Clinical and Translational Research Building, a 120,000-square-foot complex funded by a combination of an NIH grant and a UF loan; and the $44 million UF Research and Academic Center at Lake Nona near Orlando, which opened in 2012.
Several programs are in the top 10 rankings for NIH funding, including audiology, oral biology, proton therapy, emerging infections, diabetes research, and aging research. Other programs have seen marked improvement in their rankings, he said.