UF Health Jacksonville could be the next health care provider to add a free-standing emergency room to the Northeast Florida market.
CEO Leon Haley said the system is “definitely leaning toward doing some,” but plans aren’t finalized.
“I think like everybody else, we’re trying to figure out if it’s the right thing to do,” Haley said. “The answer is probably yes.”
The system’s operated a free-standing ER in the area before. When UF Health Jacksonville began building its North campus at Max Leggett Parkway, it led with a stand-alone ER in 2015, which later was converted into a hospital ER when the patient tower was constructed in 2017.
“It was great. It worked incredibly well,” Haley said. “This is why location is important, it was a needed resource for the people in the community at that time.”
UF Health operates two free-standing ERs in Gainesville and one that opened this month in The Villages.
Haley said UF Health Jacksonville’s free-standing ER would follow a similar model.
He said he hasn’t nailed down a timeline or location for the free-standing ER. Once those details are finalized, it would take about 18 months from buying land to opening.
They could begin working on that process within the next few months.
As for location, Haley said UF Health will look to south and west Jacksonville, as well as in other growing areas.
Based on community data, free-standing ERs in the area are doing pretty well, he said, which is why UF Health Jacksonville is looking at building one.
“We think there’s an opportunity to continue to grow the UF Health brand,” Haley said. “We believe we provide excellent patient care, and it’s a way for us to further reach into the community and if people need inpatient services or specialty care, we think we’re an excellent option for patients in this region to seek us out.”
He’s also wary of the possibility of too many free-standing ERs in the area.
“Another thing we have to be cautious of, because there probably is a point where there are too many,” Haley said. “And I don’t know when that point is, but we’ll take that into account as well.”