UF Health to build new, 240-bed tower

Published: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 at 2:31 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 at 2:31 p.m.

The University of Florida is planning to build a new tower for neuromedicine and cardiovascular hospitals, according to a news release issued last Tuesday.

The new tower will be east on Archer Road near the visitor parking lot for UF Health Shands Cancer Hospital. It will have an estimated 240 beds, 18 operating rooms, intensive care units and outpatient facilities, the release said.

Dr. David Guzick, senior vice president for health affairs and president of UF Health, said the expansion is a result of UF Health's success and growth in recent years. "We anticipate being equally successful in the years ahead," he said.

Construction on the tower is tentatively scheduled to begin in summer 2014, pending approval of the formal proposal next spring by the UF Health Shands Hospital board of directors. The board has already approved a $20 million design phase, Guzick said.

Estimated completion of the tower is 2018, at a cost of approximately $400 million, said Guzick, adding that the funding for the tower would come in part from UF Health's reserves, philanthropy and money obtained through investments.

Guzick anticipates that building the tower will create nearly 800 new construction jobs; once the tower is operational, another 700-800 staff jobs will be created.

Guzick added that neuromedicine and cardiovascular services are both growing fields with increasingly complex technological needs that a new building will be able to provide. Cardiology, vascular surgery and cardiothoracic surgery will be housed in the new tower, as will neurosurgery and neurology.

Guzick said that it's clinically important that these areas stay close together so that specialists can work together to serve patients' needs. The departments will include specialized ICUs and operating rooms.

Currently, neurosurgery and neurology are together in the North Tower of Shands Hospital, but in a space that has become cramped, Guzick said.

He added that moving these specialties will also create more space for other departments in the North Tower, especially general medicine and the expanding Children's Hospital.

Guzick said that the rapid expansion bodes well for the strategic plan he developed in 2010, dubbed "Forward Together," which brings the hospital and university faculty together in serving patients.

The theme of that vision was to create "unstoppable momentum," said Guzick, adding that this latest tower is emblematic of that.

"It's very gratifying to know that we've not only attracted enough faculty from around the country and patients, but we're now full," he said, referring specifically to the growth generated by the opening in 2009 of the Shands Cancer Hospital in 2009.

UF Health is in the process of other expansion projects as well, including renovations to the children's hospital and future expansion of the neonatal intensive care unit.

Kristine Crane is a Gainesville Sun staff writer.

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