University of South Florida Health and Tampa General Hospital announced at Thursday's USF Board of Trustees meeting that they will be strengthening their partnership.
The two have been working together since the College of Medicine's creation in the early 1970’s, and TGH already serves as the official teaching hospital for USF.
Pending legal approval, they will now form an Academic Medical Center, the first of its kind on the Gulf Coast of Florida.
USF Health Senior Vice President Dr. Charles Lockwood assured the board that the relationship would be mutually beneficial.
"If we continue to operate in these two silos, neither of us will optimize what we can present, and we will both ultimately fail,” Lockwood said. "But if we work together, we will align our interests in a way that will accelerate the growth of this academic health center.”
Lockwood pointed to the top 25 medical schools in the country, saying almost all of them have partnerships with local hospitals.
TGH President and CEO John Couris said that when medical centers come together, they make communities stronger.
“When you look at great healthcare around the country you tend to see a nucleus,” Couris said. “You see a nucleus of great activity happening. That’s what we’re creating between USF and TGH. The idea is to engage other partners throughout the community, and not make this something just about us, but about everybody.”
That includes patients.
"There will be a demonstrable improvement I think in patient satisfaction and patient safety and outcomes," Lockwood said. "Beyond that we'll be offering cutting edge programs that aren't offered anywhere else in the United States."
Members of the Board of Trustees expressed their enthusiasm for the plan.
“Done right, it brings not only prestige, but it brings in great resources with the right kind of leadership,” USF System President Judy Genshaft said.
The USF Health Morsani College of Medicine is scheduled to move into its new downtown Tampa home just one mile from TGH later this year. This will make commuting between the two easier for students and the medical professionals who teach them.
In addition, trustees approved a plan to lease about 25,000 square feet of space in the new medical school to Tampa General.
TGH will pay $20 million in advance for the space, which will a co-branded imaging center and a TGH urgent care clinc on the first floor, a heart health co-location on the ninth floor, and a TGH executive wellness area.
Lockwood said if all goes well, the Academic Medical Center will be up and running in 18 months.