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Health News Florida

Legislature earmarks $80 million for renovation of UF Health Jax trauma center

uf health jax building
UF Health
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Hospital CEO Russ Armistead announced that the renovated trauma center would be named for his predecessor, Dr. Leon Haley, who died last year in a watercraft accident.

The health system says the facility, nearly four decades old, is in dire need of renovation. Legislators included the money in the state budget they will vote on Monday.

The Legislature is set to give $80 million to UF Health Jacksonville for "critical updates" to its trauma center.

The allocation is part of the proposed $112.1 billion budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year that will receive a final vote from both chambers Monday before heading to the governor.

The city-owned facility, which is nearly four decades old, partly houses the hospital's emergency department and acts as the only safety net hospital on the First Coast.

Safety net hospitals provide health care even if a patient doesn't have insurance and cannot afford the cost of services. Because of this, UF Health Jacksonville serves not just the city, but all of the surrounding counties and the Duval County jail as well.

Appropriation requests from Jacksonville lawmakers, initially for just $20 million, described the trauma center as "outdated and overcrowded."

In a news release Friday, the hospital's CEO, Russ Armistead, announced that the renovated trauma center would be named for his predecessor, Dr. Leon Haley, who died last year in a watercraft accident.

Haley had a leading role in the city's COVID-19 response.

Under his tenure, UF Health Jacksonville was one of five Florida hospitals to receive the initial batch of Pfizer vaccines, and Haley is widely considered the first person in the state to get vaccinated for COVID, doing so in a public event to bolster confidence in vaccine efficiency.

"Dr. Haley was well-known as a bridge builder between rich and poor, Black and white, and Democrats and Republicans," Armistead said. "It is only fitting that a bipartisan group of legislators chose to fund and name this new facility in his memory."

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