Health News Florida
3:46 pm
Wed September 19, 2012

USF, Lakeland Regional to Join Forces in New Healthcare System

The University of South Florida announced today it wants to merge the university's health-related programs with Lakeland Regional Medical Center, the largest hospital in Polk County.

If it's approved by the boards of both the university and Lakeland Regional, it would create the largest doctor training program in the state, USF President Judy Genshaft announced today in her fall address to students and staff.

"The real winners in this partnership will be our patients," says Genshaft. "Our state needs doctors prepared to evolve. With our population and this hospital partnership, will do exactly that.

"As a result, USF may soon have the largest residency program in the state of Florida and most diverse in terms of the number of specialty that we offer," she says. "

If its approved, the deal would create 200 new medical residencies. USF would get to place its name on the biggest hospital between Tampa and Orlando.

Here's what USF's press release has to say:

“Health care is in the middle of historic transformation,” said Stephen Klasko, MD, MBA, CEO of USF Health and dean of the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine. “We want to ensure that USF Health is driving that transformation rather than caught underneath it. By creating the USF Health System, we can create a future that includes top-quality patient care and greater economic stability for the entire region.”

Lakeland Regional Health Systems, Inc., includes Lakeland Regional Medical Center, an 851-bed, non-profit hospital with more than 4,500 employees with an active medical staff of 484 physicians.  With 186,000 patient days, 3,500 births, and 38,000 inpatient discharges, Lakeland Regional Medical Center is the fifth largest hospital in Florida.  It is home to the state’s largest single-site emergency department, with more than 165,000 visits this year.

Elaine Thompson, PhD, FACHE, president and CEO of Lakeland Regional Health Systems, Inc.,  was recently named to the Becker’s Hospital Review “100 Non-Profit Hospital, Health System CEOs to Know.”

“We appreciate our physicians and all of their excellent contributions over the years in delivering high-quality healthcare to our community.  Their dedication, along with the dedication and support of the Lakeland community, has sustained a long legacy of delivering exceptional health care,” Dr. Thompson said. “Today, we have the distinct opportunity of combining our strong, high-quality health care system with the leading-edge medical education and research of USF.  Quite simply, we are taking our excellent hospital and making it even better.”

USF officials say they're looking for other existing hospitals to join what is to become the USF Health System.