UCH now part of Florida Hospital Tampa Bay Division

By Jessica Velez, CORRESPONDENT
On September 21, 2011

University Community Health (UCH) made its partnership with the Florida Hospital statewide network official with a name change - becoming part of Florida Hospital Tampa Bay Division (FHTD).

UCH's Tampa location was also renamed - to Florida Hospital Tampa. The name changes were announced Tuesday morning at the Pepin Heart Institute, adjacent to Florida Hospital Tampa at 3100 E. Fletcher Ave. The Florida Hospital statewide network is the regional arm of Adventist Health System, a hospital system with 43 locations in 10 states, which acquired UCH in September 2010. FHTD is comprised of five hospitals - former UCH locations in Tampa, Carrollwood and Connerton; Florida Hospital Zephyrhills; and Helen Ellis Memorial Hospital. The future Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel, cheduled to open in 2012, will also be a part of FHTD.

John Harding, president and CEO of FHTD, said during the announcement the changes go beyond the name. FHTD has plans for a new emergency department on Bruce B. Downs Boulevard and large expectations for the hospital's economic impact - aiming to create approximately 400 new jobs within 12 months, he said.

"The economic impact we will have over five years in this community, within our footprint in North Tampa and Pasco County, will be approximately $500 million," Harding said. "We're excited about what we're bringing to this community."

Florida Hospital's $500 million investment to FHTD will include spending toward improvements at existing facilities.

Harding said Florida Hospital partnered with USF Health because they "needed a partner in academics" to achieve their goal of being on the cutting edge of technological advancements and research.

USF Health CEO Stephen Klasko said Florida Hospital and the Adventist Health System - have been on his radar for a while.

"Whenever anybody comes and moves into your neighborhood, what do you do? You bring them a Danish and you check them out," he said during the meeting. "I've known the Adventist Health System for quite a while and I've spent a good part of my career looking at how we can become more patient-centric and how we can look at quality and safety."

In an interview with The Oracle, Klasko said an affiliation agreement between USF Health and UCH has been in place for years and included residency-training programs at UCH.

"Now, having a hospital system that's able to partner with us, not only will it be great for USF, it will be great for the patients," he said. "The patients before may have had a community hospital over here, (but) now they're a part of the Adventist Health System."

Klasko said the merger will help USF achieve its goal of becoming a nationally-recognized medical school.

"When you look at our resources, we will have the only fully functional Alzheimer's Center in the country (in Byrd Alzheimer's Institute), we'll have a simulation center downtown (in the Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation) that is like no other in the country, we'll have one of the best cancer centers in the country (in H. L. Moffitt Cancer Center) and we now have one of the best integrated, coordinated health systems in the country (in Adventist Health System)."

Michael Schultz, president and CEO of Adventist Health System's Florida Region, said during the announcement the possibility of working with USF Health was a "unique" opportunity that helped the merger with UCH happen.

"(We are) partnering with one of the nation's leading universities and medical schools," he said, "giving the community access to USF's world-class physicians at various locations throughout this new Florida Hospital division and finally connecting USF's cutting-edge medical research with a network of medical providers that will bring breakthrough medical treatment to the residents of the North Tampa Bay region."

Schultz said FHTD will allow patients to be treated nearly anywhere in Central Florida.

"This new Florida Hospital Tampa Bay Division also completes Florida Hospital's Central Florida network of care, which now connects 22 hospitals from Flagler Beach to Tarpon Springs and all parts in between," he said. "In other words, if you are a patient of Florida Hospital in Tampa, you will be as well known in Daytona Beach if you are ever in need of medical care while on vacation."

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