May 9, 2021

Business Florida 2021 - The Regions

North Central

Alachua • Bradford • Columbia • Dixie • Gilchrist • Hamilton Lafayette • Levy • Madison • Marion • Suwannee • Taylor • Union

| 10/30/2020

Health Care

The North Central region boasts more than 15 hospitals spread across its 13 counties, and one of them — UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville — has emerged as the No. 1 hospital in Florida. The 875-bed facility, which is a teaching hospital of the University of Florida, earned Top 50 rankings in nine specialties on U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Hospitals, 2020-21.” UF Shands was singled out for excellence in urology (No. 17), ear, nose and throat (No. 25),

cancer, geriatrics and nephrology (No. 33 all), pulmonology and lung surgery (No. 37) and orthopaedics and gastroenterology and GI surgery (No. 45 all). UF Shands also ranked highest among Florida hospitals in five of nine specialties.

In July 2020, surgeons at UF Health Shands in Gainesville performed a successful first-of-its-kind procedure in the Southeast — a double-lung transplant on a patient who tested positive for COVID-19 for whom a lung transplant was the only treatment option.

In other developments:

• In 2019, UF Health Shands Hospital opened a renovated intensive care unit for burn and serious-wound patients with 34,000 square feet and 19 new patient rooms.

• University of Florida Health has opened a 15,000-sq.-ft. $500,000 Center for Autism and Neurodevelopment in Gainesville.

Also claiming excellence in three categories on U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Children’s Hospitals 2020-21” is Gainesville-based UF Health Shands Children’s hospital, nationally ranked in pediatric cardiology and heart surgery (No. 12); pediatric diabetes and endocrinology (No. 22); and pediatric pulmonary and lung surgery (No. 27).

Other North Central health care facilities making news:

• North Florida Regional Medical Center in Gainesville has begun performing hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy, used to treat abdominal, colorectal, ovarian and gastric cancers.

• AdventHealth Ocala continues renovation of its maternity ward to include two operating rooms and an operating recovery room; AdventHealth Ocala is the only hospital in Marion County that offers labor and delivery services.

• Ocala-based Heart of Florida Health Center continues work on its new facility in Ocala. The facility, which was originally founded to serve the uninsured and under-insured patient populations, welcomes all in need of health care services.

KEY PLAYERS: Duke Energy Florida, St. Petersburg; Florida Power & Light, Juno Beach



The jewel in North Central’s educational crown remains the University of Florida. One of three designated “Preeminent State Research Universities” by the Florida Board of Governors, UF is continuing to attract nationwide interest with its graduate programs, of which 44 are now ranked in the top 20 among public universities according to the latest U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Graduate Schools” rankings. A total of 23 UF programs moved up in national rankings: business-marketing;education-overall; engineering-aerospace; law-intellectual property; and medical-research.

UF’s College of Veterinary Medicine, ranked in 2020 at No. 9 among the nation’s top vet schools, opened a $6-million, two-story addition to its Small Animal hospital in 2019. The school offers open-heart surgery in dogs, the first program of its kind in the U.S.

Other facilities serving this region’s educational needs are:

• Central College of Florida offering associate and bachelor’s degrees at its main campus in Ocala and its Levy County campus in Chiefland. CF’s Ocala Campus is also home to the Appleton Museum of Art.

• Florida Gateway College, providing a mix of bachelor’s and associate degrees in the humanities, business, education and health sciences as well as specialty programs for high-demand industries such as commercial heating and air conditioning, welding and cosmetology.

• North Florida College with campuses in Madison and Live Oak offering a B.S. in nursing as well as six associate degrees and certificate programs in more than a dozen specialty occupations.

• Santa Fe College in Gainesville, home to one of only two teaching zoos in the country, offering nine bachelor’s degrees in addition to associate degrees and certificates in eight broad areas of study.

Tags: North Central, Business Florida

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