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UF Health trauma center in line for $80 million in updates

UF Health

The Florida 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 2022-2023 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Appropriation requests from Jacksonville lawmakers, initially for just $20 million, described the trauma center as "outdated and overcrowded."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 release Friday, the hospital's CEO, Russ Armistead, announced that the renovated trauma center would be named for his predecessor, Dr. Leon Haley, who passed away last year in a water vehicle accident.

UF Health CEO Leon Haley, Jr. receives his COVID-19 vaccination in Dec. 2020.
Bob Self
Florida Times-Union
UF Health CEO Leon Haley Jr. receives his COVID-19 vaccination in December 2020.

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 himself is widely considered the first person in the state to get vaccinated, doing so in a public event to bolster confidence in their 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."

Reporter Raymon Troncoso joined WJCT News in June of 2021 after concluding his fellowship with Report For America, where he was embedded with Capitol News Illinois covering Illinois state government with a focus on policy and equity. You can reach him at (904) 358-6319 or and follow him on Twitter @RayTroncoso.