The merger of UF Health and Flagler Health+ was made complete as the two organizations joined forces officially on Sept. 1 and made it public with a press conference at Flagler Hospital in St. Augustine on Sept. 13.
“Today is a day that we celebrate the history of who Flagler has been, and we also celebrate the future of who we will be as UF Health St. Johns and UF Health Flagler Hospital,” said Carlton DeVooght, CEO of Flagler Health+.
As a result of the transaction, the St. Johns County health system Flagler Health+ is now partnering with UF Health, which is one of the Southeast’s premier academic health systems.
The addition of academic and research initiatives to accompany the established healthcare already being offered is one of the ways it looks to make an impact with the merger.
“All this is because we want to create the ideal health system for the communities that we serve,” said Dr. David Nelson, UF Health president. “We’re grateful to be here and to welcome Flagler Health+ into the UF Health family.”
According to Devooght, the system has had different names and locations over the years, but throughout all of it the commitment they have to the communities they serve has remained consistent.
The merger is just the latest change, but one that he believes only strengthens the mission the healthcare system has never wavered from.
“When our board made the decision to find a partner to ensure that commitment continued, we were fortunate to find a like-minded organization that is committed to the communities we serve as much as we are,” DeVooght said.
DeVooght stated that additions are the primary aspects they are focusing on and there will be no affect to the residents that are already patients within the established Flagler Health+ program of care.
According to Nelson, the partnership is all about bringing in new resources, which includes bringing in human and intellectual capital through funding and innovation.
“We’re very interested beyond the clinical care, in our research and educational mission, as well as being entrenched deeply in community engagement,” Nelson said. “Hopefully the future of Flagler systems will see a lot of training programs and opportunities for patients to engage in clinical research trials for cutting edge research.”
Combining the organizations means a shared identity was needed, and it was announced during the press conference that moving forward Flagler Health+ will now be known as UF Health St. Johns at the enterprise level and the hospital will be named UF Health Flagler Hospital.
“People often don’t think what it means to have high quality healthcare in their neighborhood,” James Kelly Jr., interim CEO with UF Health Shands. “They just know that when they need it, they want it to be there to meet their needs.”
The history and the legacy of the facility within the community were instrumental factors in the naming of the hospital, to honor those that laid the foundation through generations of medical service.
That legacy includes Flagler Health+ being around for 130 years.
“As we move forward together, we will be able to strengthen the recruitment and retention of team members, physicians and advance practice providers to further enhance our local and high-quality healthcare for the community," Kelly Jr. said.
Kelly Jr. stated that part of that enhancement plan is to add an integrated enterprise-wide technology strategy, including new clinical equipment to support current and future healthcare professionals.
“As we further develop and implement our integration plan, I believe everyone will see an energized group of people working together to grow an already outstanding organization,” Kelly Jr. said. “I look forward to seeing the results of that effort.”
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