Intensive Care and Intensive Caring

“As a university and community filled with brilliant minds, we must work to ensure fewer damaged ones,” said UF President Kent Fuchs at the ribbon cutting for the UF Health & Vascular and Neuromedicine hospitals. “As a nation of too many broken hearts, we must work to mend more of them.

Intensive Care and Intensive Caring

Dr. Guzick, I’m grateful to you and the UF Health board for seeing the light through the clouds and boldly forging ahead with these hospitals.

Heart disease is an epidemic: The number one killer of Americans. We don’t often feel its toll collectively. But we did on Oct. 2, with the news of Tom Petty’s fatal cardiac arrest. As many of his fans said on that day: Heartbreaking.

Petty grew up in a little cement block ranch home in Northeast Gainesville, formed his first bands here and graduated from Gainesville High School, though he skipped his commencement to play a gig. He was 66. Too young to die.

Tom Petty’s loss united people in Gainesville and nationally in a sad experience. His Heartbreakers’ logo still adorns the 34th Street Wall. But most of us were already familiar with heart disease from our personal lives, either from losing friends, parents or grandparents, or because of our own battles.

Much the same can be said of neurological diseases or conditions, including stroke, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson, ALS, epilepsy and brain tumors. If I asked for a show of hands, I bet most of you would have stories of loved ones whose lives were cut short or changed forever by these afflictions.  Together they affect millions of people globally, a disproportionately large number in Florida because of our elderly population.

Heart and neurological diseases cause a devastating loss of human potential and an ocean of suffering and pain. But with the opening of these hospitals, we can permit ourselves to feel a different emotion. We can feel hope.

And we can feel hope because, for the patients here, we know – in our minds and in our hearts – that we will do everything currently possible in medicine to make them well.

UF Health’s neurology and neurosurgery specialty programs are ranked among the top one percent nationwide. Our physicians pioneered therapies and technology that have transformed heart, vascular and thoracic care in Florida.

What these new hospitals do, in a word, is give these very exceptional clinicians the world’s very most exceptional tools.

At the same time, these hospitals are designed in the ethos of compassionate care, from the abundant natural light … to the lovely outdoor terrace where patients can breathe fresh air … to the family spaces in each room where loved ones can comfortably spend the night.

All of this enables UF Health clinicians to provide not only intensive care, but also intensive caring, to borrow the wonderful phrase of the nurse and author Tilda Shalof.

As a university and community filled with brilliant minds, we must work to ensure fewer damaged ones. As a nation of too many broken hearts, we must work to mend more of them.  I am so very proud that patients in these UF Health hospitals are guaranteed to benefit from that lifesaving and life-giving work.