Business Florida 2021 - The Regions
Baker • Clay • Duval • Flagler • Nassau • Putnam • St. Johns
Florida’s Northeast is widely known for its superior health care and here’s the documented proof. Three hospitals in the region were among the top 50 nationwide in one or more specialty on U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Hospitals 2020-21” list.
Mayo Clinic Jacksonville topped the region and earned second-place statewide in seven adult specialties, including neurology and neurosurgery, gastroenterology and GI surgery and geriatrics. In 2019, Mayo opened its long-awaited Discovery and Innovation Building in Jacksonville. The 75,000-sq.-ft. structure houses a lung restoration facility where lung transplant experts repair and restore damaged lungs for transplantation; an automated stem cell manufacturing site; and a life sciences incubator for biotech entrepreneurs.
And coming soon to Mayo’s Jacksonville campus: a 140,000-sq.-ft. cancer care center where patients will have access to the newest form of proton therapy — pencil beam scanning. When completed in late 2023, the Mayo facility will be Jacksonville’s third proton therapy center.
Also claiming excellence on U.S. News & World Report’s 2020-21 list: Baptist Medical Center for gynecology. With an eye to growing health care services in Clay County, Baptist Health is planning to build a new, full-service hospital at its Baptist Clay Medical Campus on Fleming Island. The 300,000-sq.-ft. facility will open with 100 beds and the addition of enhanced cardiology and women’s services. An estimated 700 new jobs are anticipated when the hospital opens in early 2022.
UF Health Jacksonville also earned U.S. News & World Report recognition in the ear, nose and throat category. In Nassau County, UF Health continues construction on its Wildlight wellness building. Slated for completion in early fall 2020, UF Health Rehabilitation-Wildlight will provide a variety of education, fitness and recreation programs aimed at promoting a healthy lifestyle for residents of the surrounding community.
Other hospitals making news in the region: Orange Park Medical Center, which opened a cardiac treatment center with 14 patient rooms and two electrophysiology labs to test, diagnose and treat abnormal heart rhythms; Ascension St. Vincent, opening free-standing emergency rooms in two Jacksonville locations; and St. Augustine’s Flagler Hospital, exploring the idea of building a “health village” in the St. Johns County community of Durban Park.
Children’s health care has had an important role to play in this region too. Wolfson Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville garnered recognition on U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Children’s Hospitals, 2020-21” list in three pediatric specialties: diabetes & endocrinology (No. 45); orthopedics (No. 48); and urology (No. 50). Among recent developments at Wolfson: construction of a lead-lined therapy suite to allow for the high-dose radiation therapy (MIBG) needed to treat children with high-risk neuroblastoma, the third most common childhood cancer after leukemia and brain/spine tumors. Wolfson is the first hospital in Florida to offer the procedure.
Life & Leisure
Contrary to popular belief, America’s earliest settlers weren’t British, and they didn’t touch ground at Plymouth Rock. Spanish conquistadors were first to arrive in Northeast Florida at what is today St. Augustine and — here’s the good news — they left plenty of evidence behind for 21st-century tourists to enjoy. Worth the trip to St. Augustine from anywhere in Florida: the oldest masonry fort in the continental U.S. (Castillo de San Marcos); the oldest house; the oldest wooden schoolhouse; the oldest store; a wonderfully bizarre collection of “stuff” at the Lightner Museum; and even an alligator farm where you can zipline just above the reptiles. And for a bird’s-eye view of it all, visit the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum — only 219 winding steps to the top!
When it comes to attractions worth visiting in this neck of the woods, St. Augustine only scratches the surface. In Jacksonville, there’s the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, Museum of Science and History (MOSH) and Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, which in addition to the usual complement of lions, lemurs and elephants, houses a bunch of birds with interesting names like blue-bellied roller, double-striped thick knee and spotted dikkop. For history buffs, there’s downtown Fernandina Beach boasting 400+ historic homes, churches and commercial buildings, and Green Cove Springs, which some believe to be the actual “Fountain of Youth” that Ponce de Leon is said to have come looking for. And, of course, there’s the ocean. Florida’s Northeast boasts 90 miles of Atlantic Ocean coastline for swimming, snorkeling, sailing, surfing or just sunning.
For the golfer, Florida’s Northeast boasts more than 80 golf courses, including TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra where the Players PGA Tournament is held annually. And still under construction nearby, PGA Tour’s new 187,000-sq.-ft. headquarters. Elsewhere in the region, there are plenty of spectator sports to enjoy and teams to cheer for, including the NFL Jacksonville Jaguars, the AFL Jacksonville Sharks, Minor League Baseball’s Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, the NASL Jacksonville Armada FC and one of college sports’ biggest rivalries, the annual Florida-Georgia Football Classic. COVID-19 has put them all on hiatus for now, but not to worry … they’ll be back one day soon.