TAMPA — Last week, officials from USF Health and Florida Hospital were celebrating a $6.9 million state appropriation for a joint cardiovascular institute at the University of South Florida.
On Monday, the two institutions cemented their partnership further, with Florida Hospital Pepin Heart Institute adding USF Health to its name and announcing new research and patient care collaborations around the Tampa Bay area, focusing on cancer care, neurology and, of course, cardiac care.
For more than 40 years, Florida Hospital-Tampa (formerly known as University Community Hospital) and USF Health have been just across Fletcher Avenue from each other.
USF's college of medicine still has its primary teaching facility at Tampa General Hospital in South Tampa. But it long has wanted a hospital close to or on its main campus in North Tampa, and talks with Florida Hospital officials started in 2009.
"It's official. We're no longer just neighbors," said Michael Schultz, president and chief executive officer of the Florida region for Adventist Health System, the parent company of Florida Hospital.
Stephen Klasko, an obstetrician who is chief executive officer of USF Health and dean of USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, called the partnership "the longest gestation and longest birth I've ever been through."
USF faculty and residents will team with Florida Hospital staff in four areas: cardiology at Florida Hospital Pepin Heart Institute-USF Health, breast health at Florida Hospital Tampa, neuroscience at Florida Hospital Zephyrhills and surgical oncology, melanoma and breast cancer at Helen Ellis Memorial Hospital in Tarpon Springs. Florida Hospital is spending approximately $14 million dollars on all four programs.
Klasko said the partnership will mean better care, closer to home.
"This will make sure that people will not have to leave Tampa Bay for the best care,'' he said. "In fact, people will come here for care.''
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