USF Health Checkup with Dr. Klasko

Dear Colleagues,

In the last week alone, USF Health opened the Morsani Center, a research team received a new $128 million grant to end juvenile diabetes, and USF recruited MIT’s spin-off Draper Laboratories. These news events, for me, mean the next few years are a “tipping point” for the future of USF Health. In fact, it’s a tipping point for how we organize health and health care for our entire region.

On Sunday, an editorial in The Tampa Tribune said the same thing. The editorial advocated that it is time for Tampa to move to the next level in health care.

The key, the Tribune argued, is USF Health:

“To enhance the stature of our region, Tampa Bay’s health care leaders should maximize our assets, forego silos and find more places to develop and co-brand programs with USF Health.

“It’s time to decide. Does this region want some of the nation’s best hospitals, or do we want to continue sending patients elsewhere?”

Click here to read Tribune’s full editorial…

This is no small challenge. Let’s take a gut check heading into academic year 08/09. There’s nothing easy about our economic climate. There’s nothing easy about the challenges USF faces along with our region. But there’s also evidence that your creativity is yielding results.

Challenge: To build and retain our core strength, our faculty members.

Results: We’ve developed academic investment systems to help faculty advance, while recruiting amazing new faculty members … Alicia Monroe, Tom Unnasch, Tanya Murphy, Cliff Gooch, Nick Hall, Todd Hazelton, Lew Rubin, Kevin Kip – just to name a few. Like them, each of you have made USF the right place to build your future.

To forego silos that prevented our success in studies of aging and the brain.

Results: We’re now seeing the future of neurosciences at USF as a model of “sky is the limit” thinking with a revitalized neurology department, a world class center for neuro-immunology in nursing, a powerful neurosurgery department, a psychiatry department opening new fields of treatment, and the new merger between USF and the Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute.

Challenge: To create dramatic change in education to build the health care future.

Results: Check out the success of our students in nursing, the successful accreditation visit in medicine despite rapid change in our medical education, a sterling site visit for physical therapy. How about our upcoming College of pharmacy as the completion of the most innovative, integrated health science experiment in the country.

Challenge: To join our community partners in elevating health care.

Results: Start first with the deep outreach public health has achieved, including substantial transformation in East Tampa. Check our progress toward rational and stronger partnerships with Moffitt, Tampa General and All Children’s, based on USF’s role as a leader in developing world class programs along with its partners.

Challenge: To use research to teach and model transformational discovery.

Results: Take a look at the diversification of our research portfolio across USF Health, with important new worldwide centers in nursing and public health. I’m delighted to acknowledge the new $128 million grant to help end juvenile diabetes, awarded by the NIH to Jeff Krischer to add to his prior $169 million grant.

As we complete our checkup, we need to recognize that the landscape of USF Health has changed – from the incredible infectious disease team in new laboratories in public health, to the new building for nursing, and now this last week we saw our first patients in the Morsani Center for Advanced Health Care.

These buildings model our response to the challenge of the future of health care. We believe our colleges can transform how we understand the full spectrum of health. We believe our education will transform how our students change the world. And we believe that transformational research will drive how we do everything.

I am committed to making the next few years the “tipping point” years for USF Health’s success despite the external challenges. I’ve been personally flattered to be approached for other leadership positions, because those recruitments prove that the work you’ve done has been recognized. But I’m staying here. There is no place that has the potential and excitement of a transformed health system that USF Health is leading.

To all of our students, faculty and staff, thank you for everything you do every day to meet the challenge.