University of South Florida

USF Health Specialty Care Center opens in The Villages

 The Villages (Jan. 24, 2014) –  USF Health is now providing a broad range of specialty care – from orthopaedics to endocrinology – in north central Florida as it opens the USF Health Specialty Care Center, a giant step forward in creating a new model of coordinated health care in what is becoming “America’s Healthiest Hometown®.”

Villages Specialty Care Ctr ribbon cutting

Cutting the ribbon at the opening of the USF Health Specialty Care Center with USF President Judy Genshaft, center, were, from left to right, USF Trustee Scott Hopes; Florida Senator Alan Hays; USF Trustee Nancy Watkins, Gary Lester, vice president of community relations, The Villages; Dr. Elliot Sussman, chair of The Villages Health; Donna Petersen, ScD, interim senior vice president, USF Health, and dean, College of Public Health; and Dr. Jeffrey Lowenkron, CEO, USF Physicians Group.

USF Health has opened the center as part of its statewide initiative to help provide residents of The Villages, the nation’s largest community of people over 55, with all the tools they need to live more active and healthy lives. Residents of The Villages will have access to high-level care from the best academic specialists just a few steps away from their homes.

“We’re excited to see USF Health extending the benefits of an academic health center – all the latest, most cutting-edge research, education and care – to serve residents in a new region of Florida,” said USF President Judy Genshaft, who spoke at this morning’s ribbon-cutting ceremonies.


L to R: Speakers USF President Judy Genshaft, Dr. Elliot Sussman of The Villages Health, and Dr. Jeff Lowenkron and Dr. Donna Petersen, both of USF Health.

USF Health has opened the 25,000 square foot center in partnership with The Villages Health, which is opening a series of primary care centers throughout The Villages. The partnership and its centers are designed to give patients a seamless and coordinated model of care.

The new centers are part of a partnership that extends beyond clinical care. USF Health also offers health seminars, assessments and other services in The Villages and is conducting groundbreaking public health research there.

“What makes this center so wonderful is that it truly began with residents of The Villages,” said Donna Petersen, ScD, MHS, CPH, interim senior vice president of USF Health. “It began as we built our partnership with this community. We asked residents, ‘What do you need to improve your health?’ And you shared your vision. You want a more coordinated network. You want a healthcare system that works for you – not one where you have to ‘work the system.’ We set out to create the patient-centered medical home of the future in The Villages.”


Despite the chilly weather, the celebration attracted a crowd — including university, community and government leaders.

That focus on the patient is at the core of the health partnership, said Dr. Elliot Sussman, chair of The Villages Health.

“We’re already hearing great things from our patients about the opportunity to visit the USF Health Specialty Care Center,” Dr. Sussman said. “Having specialists aligned with USF Health available right here in The Villages is vital to our patients’ health, convenience and peace of mind. We look forward to working with the health professionals at the Specialty Care Center to provide our patients with a full range of health care and services just a few steps away from home.”


Center Director Barbara Bowman-Wheatley, right, leads a tour of the new facility.


Dr. Jeff Lowenkron, CEO of the USF Physicians’ Group, thanked the The Villages Health and the larger community for forming a unique alliance with USF Health.

“We believe it will be creative partnerships that provide insight into solutions that improve health care in the future,” he said. “As we seek to help make The Villages ‘America’s Healthiest Hometown,’ we want to collaborate with our primary care partners and deliver specialty care that is built around the needs of the patient. This care will be integrated and coordinated by design, not by accident.”


L to R: Sumpter County Commissioner Don V. Hahnfeldt, chair of the Central Florida Health Alliance; USF President Judy Genshaft; Florida Senator Alan Hays; and Dr. Jeff Lowenkron, CEO of the USF Physicians Group.

The center offers 32 exam rooms, four procedure rooms and gives health professionals the ability to perform a wide variety of procedures and tests on site. Tests available soon will include laboratory work, ultrasound, stress echocardiography and cardio nuclear stress tests. Specialties currently offered at the center include: obstetrics and gynecology; cardiothoracic surgery; plastic & reconstructive surgery; orthopaedic surgery; endocrinology; and general surgery.

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. About 34,000 Villagers responded, making this the largest such survey of an aging population. The survey will yield national recommendations for healthy aging, and was 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.





Click here for more information on the USF Health Specialty Care Center.

Photos by Eric Younghans, USF Health Communications

-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 Physician’s Group. The University of South Florida is a Top 50 research university in total research expenditures among both public and private institutions nationwide, according to the National Science Foundation.

Media contact:
Lisa Greene, USF Health Communications
(813) 974-4312 or

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