We broke ground recently for our new UCF Lake Nona Medical Center – a hospital that will provide academic healthcare to Lake Nona while training tomorrow’s healthcare leaders. The UCF-HCA joint venture hospital will open in late 2020 on 25 acres next to our College of Medicine.
About 500 guests attended the Oct. 25 groundbreaking, which began with an early morning rainbow. The day had looked threatened by storms, but when I saw the rainbow over our Medical Education Building, I knew it was a good sign – for the day and our future. UCF President Dale Whittaker said the hospital embodies a bold, collaborative spirit that will “make Orlando a destination for how health and wellness should be taught and practiced in the 21st century.”
The hospital groundbreaking came 11 years and 22 days after many of us broke ground for the UCF College of Medicine as the anchor of an emerging Medical City at Lake Nona. A teaching hospital has been part of our dream. We knew in 2007 what we know today – that we needed a teaching hospital to accomplish our goal to be one of the nation’s premier 21st-century medical schools, anchoring a Medical City that could one day be a global destination.
The hospital will be just a few steps from a new UCF Lake Nona Cancer Center that will be created in the former Sanford Burnham Prebys research facility. And it will enhance UCF’s new Academic Health Sciences Center that will, over time, bring many of the university’s health-related programs to Lake Nona.
“Our hospital will be a place that not only provides healing for our patients but also educates the healthcare providers of the future and supports the work of brilliant researchers that will lead to lifesaving care,” said Wendy Brandon, the new CEO of UCF Lake Nona Medical Center.
Wendy comes to us after a decade as CEO of HCA’s Central Florida Regional Hospital, a 221-bed facility in Sanford. There, she launched the hospital’s Level II Trauma Center, opened the region’s first freestanding emergency department, and led the development of Oviedo Medical Center.
UCF medical students applauded the role the hospital will play in preparing them as future physicians. UCF and HCA are already partnering to create residency programs across North Central and Central Florida and soon will expand those graduate medical education programs to Pensacola. Ultimately, the new hospital will have its own residency programs but from the start will provide clerkship training for third- and fourth-year medical students.
“The UCF Lake Nona Medical Center will allow us to give back to and serve the community that has embraced us so warmly,” said medical student Kevin Petersen, student council president for the class of 2021. “Today, we are one step closer to creating a healthier tomorrow … the UCF way.”
With the groundbreaking ceremony finished, construction of the hospital now begins. The foundation will be poured by January.
It’s an exciting time for our Medical City community. Stay tuned!