The Jacksonville City Council has agreed to commit $10 million to a $90 million improvement plan to the Level-1 trauma center at UF Health Jacksonville to be named after its former CEO, the late Dr. Leon Haley Jr.
The Council voted 18-0 for Ordinance 2023-0147 to add a city contribution to $80 million included in the 2022-23 fiscal year state budget for the future Dr. Leon Haley Trauma Center.
Council member Rory Diamond was absent for the vote.
Haley died at age 56 in July 2021 of injuries sustained when he was thrown from a personal watercraft in the Palm Beach Inlet. He led the medical center and was dean of UF College of Medicine.
The bill amends an existing 2019 agreement with UF Health that has the city contributing $95 million over six years for capital improvements and increases that maximum contribution in the bill to $105 million.
UF Health Jacksonville’s campus is at 655 W. Eighth St. in Springfield, north of Downtown. The hospital’s facilities in Jacksonville are city-owned buildings.
The legislation approved March 28 commits to the $10 million investment in the future and does not identify how the city will pay for the expense, according to city officials.
Council will have to take a second vote to appropriate the funding. The agreement would reimburse UF for confirmed project costs.
UF Health Vice President and COO Greg Miller told the Neighborhoods, Community Services, Public Health and Safety Committee on March 20 that UF has started on preliminary designs and schematic drawings but the project architect and engineers have not been selected.
According to Miller, once the funding is in place the project will take three to four years to complete.
When Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the $80 million in state funding in April 2022 during a news conference at the Jacksonville medical campus, he said the trauma center would serve 125,000 patients per year.
Council Vice President Ron Salem suggested during the committee meeting that UF Health attempt private sector fundraising to help supplement the local commitment, but Miller said there had not been an active effort to raise private dollars for the center.
UF Health Jacksonville was the first trauma-1 center in Florida and is currently one of seven in the state.
“If you’ve ever been in a car accident, that’s where you want to go,” Council member Randy DeFoor said in the committee meeting. “Not any of the other institutions. That one. What is amazing is how many who can’t afford to pay for those services and they’re rendered those services anyway.”
Haley became the first black CEO of UF Health Jacksonville in January 2018. He also was vice president of health affairs at the University of Florida.
Haley was one of the key health professionals in the city’s fight to contain the coronavirus pandemic in Jacksonville.
In mid-December 2020, he was the first person in Jacksonville to receive the Pfizer vaccine.