Work begins on USF Health Specialty Care Center in The Villages

THE VILLAGES, FL (March 11, 2013) – Construction began Monday morning on the new USF Health Specialty Care Center in The Villages, setting the stage for a new era and range of health care available for residents in “America’s Healthiest Hometown.”

Once the center opens in October, residents of The Villages, the nation’s largest community of people over 55, will be able to receive high-level care from faculty physicians who operate at the forefront of medical knowledge. USF Health doctors who represent several specialties will be providing care at the 25,000 square foot facility.

The center is designed as a collaborative complement to The Villages Health primary care network, which is now expanding and will soon operate seven different offices in The Villages for residents to choose from, allowing them to receive the best health care without leaving their neighborhood.

USF President Judy Genshaft visited the center for groundbreaking ceremonies Monday morning, along with Trustees Hal Mullis and Debbie Sembler.

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“Today marks a great step on our journey to creating a whole new model of health care here in ‘America’s Healthiest Hometown,’ The Villages,” said President Genshaft.

The unique partnership provides a model for comprehensive care that is truly centered around the patient, said Stephen Klasko, MD, MBA, dean of the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and CEO of USF Health.

“Working together, we will be able to provide better health for The Villagers over the entire spectrum of care,” Dr. Klasko said. “Villagers will have a medical home with a patient-centered primary network, access to the best academic specialists, and technology services that include shared electronic records and telehealth opportunities. The mission of USF Health is “making life better” and this partnership will be an embodiment of that mission.”

The partnership between The Villages and USF Health is a great model for how academic medicine can improve health, said Elliot Sussman, MD, MBA, chair of The Villages Health.

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Monday’s groundbreaking: Dr. Steve Klasko, USF President Judy Genshaft, Dr. Elliot Sussman, Trustee Debbie Sembler, Trustee Hal Mullis

“We are delighted to have our great primary care doctors working with the specialty physicians of USF Health,” Dr. Sussman said. “This partnership will give Villagers access to seamless care that starts with having a Villages Health doctor who knows them and their medical history and can provide top-notch regular care. When they need a specialist, that doctor can connect them to a network of specialists offering the most cutting-edge treatments right here in The Villages.”

Work on the Specialty Care Center project began after USF’s College of Public Health conducted a record-setting survey of the Villagers, asking about their health needs and goals. More than 37,000 Villagers responded, making this the largest such survey of an aging population.

“We found what was working and what wasn’t and what you need to be at your best and healthiest,” Dr. Klasko told the crowd Monday morning.

The survey, which won the Erickson Award for Excellence in Research, will yield national recommendations for healthy aging. It is already being used in planning the Specialty Care Center. Villagers surveyed showed a high level of interest in a model that provides coordinated care and gives them a medical home.

“We’re bringing back the days of Marcus Welby, when physicians work together with one goal — making you healthier,” Dr. Klasko said.

After Monday’s groundbreaking, President Genshaft, the Trustees, and Dr. Klasko joined Dr. Sussman, Dr. Joseph Hildner, chief medical officer of The Villages Health on a tour of the new primary care center run by The Villages Health.

The center features rocking chairs out front, “visit rooms” instead of exam rooms and special space dedicated to patient education. Everything is designed with patients in mind, Dr. Hildner said.

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Dr. Sussman and Dr. Hildner talk about their vision for primary care with patients at the center.

“It’s a welcoming, friendly place to go to,” he said. “It’s not the usual experience of going to your doctor…and you’re never more than a 10-minute golf cart ride away.”

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Dr. Jeff Lowenkron, CEO of the USF Physicians Group, talks about the new USF Health Specialty Care Center in The Villages.

The patient experience is designed to do more than be more pleasant. By engaging patients to take charge of their health, allowing doctors to spend more time with each patient, and setting up a coordinated network, Dr. Hildner believes Villagers will lead healthier lives, with fewer crisis events, such as heart attacks.

“We’re excited about working with USF and being able to do outcomes research to prove that,” he said.

-- Photos by Eric Younghans, USF Health Communications
— Video by Allyn DiVito, USF Health Information Systems