USF, Lakeland Regional Boards approve partnership

Tampa, FL (Sept. 25, 2012) – The Board of Trustees at the University of South Florida has approved the creation of the new USF Health System, an organization designed to allow USF Health to partner with hospitals and physician groups.

On Monday afternoon, the board also approved Lakeland Regional Medical Center as USF Health’s first partner, giving a green light to an initial collaboration between USF Health and Lakeland Regional Health Systems.

“This is a huge opportunity for Tampa Bay to become an economic and health leader, and this is a great first step for USF to move forward with such a high-quality partner as Lakeland Regional Medical Center,” said John Ramil, chair of the USF Board of Trustees. “We hope all our health organizations will work together in creative partnerships like this to improve the health of our region.”

On Sunday, Sept. 23, the board of Lakeland Regional Health Systems, Inc., also met and approved the plan to move forward.

“We appreciate our physicians and all of their excellent contributions over the years in delivering high-quality healthcare to our community.  Their dedication has sustained a long tradition of delivering exceptional health care at LRMC,” said Bill Mutz, chairman of the Board of Directors for Lakeland Regional. “By joining USF Health System, we are simply taking our excellent hospital to the next level and making it even better.”

With leadership approval achieved for both parties, USF Health and Lakeland Regional will work together on a financial analysis to determine the monetary details of the operational merger.  Work is expected to be complete, and the final deal in place, by March 2013.

HeadlineImage“Moving forward today is the next step in strengthening USF Health so that we can do more to improve the lives and health of everyone in our region,” said Dr. Stephen Klasko, CEO of USF Health and dean of the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine. “We’re excited to move forward with our new partnership with Lakeland Regional Health Systems and building an already excellent hospital into a strong teaching program.”

The new partnership is expected to create 200 to 250 spaces for residents, or new physicians completing specialized graduate training, at Lakeland Regional. Those added spaces will improve care for Florida because resident physicians tend to settle where they do their graduate training – and, because of a shortage of residency slots, Florida now trains undergraduate medical students who leave the state for residencies elsewhere.

The partnership also means more research and cutting-edge treatments will be available to Polk County residents in Lakeland. More specialized care also will be available there.

“Teaching hospitals are at the forefront of developing better treatments, new cures, and standards of healthcare outcomes that will define the future, and we believe the nation’s best hospitals are teaching hospitals,” said Elaine Thompson, PhD, FACHE, president and CEO of Lakeland Regional.

Press conference at Lakeland Regional Medical Center Tuesday morning.

Upon its formation, Dr. Thompson will become the CEO of the new USF Health System and vice president for clinical operations at USF Health, while retaining her position of president and CEO at Lakeland Regional. As CEO of the USF Health System, Dr. Thompson will report to Dr. Klasko and to the new board of the USF Health System.  In addition, Dr. Thompson will maintain her current reporting structure to the Lakeland Regional Board of Directors.

Lakeland Regional Medical Center has 851 hospital beds, 4,500 employees, and an active medical staff of 484 physicians. It is the fifth-largest hospital in Florida and operates the busiest single-site emergency department in Florida.

With a wave of healthcare consolidations occurring across the country as economic factors pressure hospitals to join larger groups, the USF Health System is open to partnerships with other hospitals and physician groups.

“With the USF Health System, we believe we have created a partnership structure that allows for the best of both worlds,” Dr. Klasko said.

“It allows hospitals partnering with us to retain some local control and autonomy, while allowing them access to the resources and abilities of USF Health.”

                                                    -USF Health-

USF Health’s mission is to envision and implement the future of health. It is the partnership of the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, the College of Nursing, the College of Public Health, the College of Pharmacy, the School of Biomedical Sciences and the School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences; and the USF Physicians Group. The University of South Florida is a global research university ranked 50th in the nation by the National Science Foundation for both federal and total research expenditures among all U.S. universities.