Timely news from UF Health Jacksonville: April 2020
Dear Alumni and Friends,

Greetings from UF Health Jacksonville. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to force health care providers to adapt and respond to the ever-changing circumstances, I wanted to reach out to our UF College of Medicine Jacksonville residency and fellowship alumni to thank you for your tireless dedication to your patients and your communities during this global crisis.

No doubt the safety of your patients, families and fellow caregivers is your highest priority. My thoughts, and the thoughts of our entire UF Health community, are with you and your colleagues during this trying time. In the midst of this uncertainty, I hope a brief update from the UF Health Jacksonville campus, including our current response and news related to the COVID-19 outbreak, is of some interest to you as you are an important part of our legacy which is celebrating 150 years in 2020.

First, central to our continued commitment to leadership through education, I am pleased to share some good news. We are excited to welcome 122 new trainees and 25 current trainees to our programs after successful matches for 2020. We look forward to having them join the Jacksonville campus in July. 

Demographics:
  • 70% U.S. Medical Graduates (USMG)
  • 30% International Medical Graduates (IMG)
  • 71% MD, 26% DO and 3% DMD/DDS
  • 56% female and 44% male
  • 24% of those who matched in the main match were from Florida colleges and universities, including five UF COM graduates 

Secondly, we tentatively look forward to continuing the tradition of the Celebration of Resident Research and Education on Wednesday, June 10. The day’s activities will include platform presentations (clinical research, education and quality improvement), poster presentations, clinical vignettes and new this year, a photo session.
While we pause to recognize our students, we have also taken important steps at UF Health Jacksonville to ensure the safety of our entire health care community during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • The Center for Healthy Minds and Practice , or CHaMP, at UF Health Jacksonville, remains open and available to our nearly 8,000 employees providing stress management and counseling services in a time of great need for our staff.

  • The Florida Poison Control Center, on the UF Health Jacksonville campus serves as one of the state’s call centers for the Department of Health’s COVID-19 hotline. 

  • We have dramatically increased telehealth appointments with UF Health Jacksonville’s Virtual Visit program and set up specialized clinics at two satellite locations dedicated for patients with respiratory complaints. This allows caregivers to isolate individuals until physicians can evaluate if a COVID-19 test is warranted, shielding other patients and visitors from possible, unintended exposure and preventing overflow to the Emergency Department.  

  • UF infectious disease teams in Gainesville, Jacksonville and Central Florida are responding around-the-clock to calls for help, lending their expertise and addressing many facets of our response to this extraordinary situation. Last week, we rolled out in-house testing capabilities, which greatly speeds the delivery of results for UF Health patients. We now have the capability to run several hundred tests a day, with the capacity for significantly more, limited only by reagent availability, which remains in short supply nationally. 

  • Andy Godwin, MD, chair of emergency medicine, and the staff at the UF Center for Simulation Education and Safety Research, or CSESaR, are creating face shields and building intubation boxes to protect caregivers and minimize the spread of COVID-19

  • GME programs have prepared contingency plans for deploying residents and fellows as necessary when the anticipated surge of COVID-19 admissions occurs. Weekly meetings are being held with program directors and led by David Caro, MD, associate chair for educational affairs in the department of emergency medicine and disaster medical director, and Linda Edwards, MD, senior associate dean for educational affairs and disaster medical officer. 

  • Local restaurants and private individuals have come forward to provide meals for our providers. One example: Jersey Mike’s donated meals for residents and fellows that were distributed by the Office of Educational Affairs.
UF Health staff and researchers are collaborating more than ever, during this time of uncertainty:

  • Open Source Ventilator Project – This open source project has been created to address predicted ventilator shortage worldwide due to the COVID-19 pandemic and host open source contribution. The UF College of Medicine’s Center for Safety, Simulation and Advanced Learning Technologies has started an open-source ventilator project using common household items like PVC pipes and sprinkler valves to address the growing need for these vital machines.

  • Epidemiologic Study – More than 100 volunteer students and faculty from the College of Medicine, School of Physician Assistant Studies and the College of Nursing visited The Villages in March, screening more than 400 symptomatic people in five days. Anyone not experiencing symptoms or not meeting other standard clinical testing criteria were given the opportunity to sign up for a UF research study that enables them to receive testing as part of an epidemiologic protocol known as community surveillance.  

  • 3D Printing of N95 Masks – The UF College of Engineering has offered its 3D printing technology and design capabilities to partner with UF Health in producing inexpensive ventilators (working prototype completed) and are starting on a project to print N95 masks. Other areas of the university community have stepped up, with the Research and Academic Center in Lake Nona providing additional N95 masks, CAPRs and other PPE and the College of Veterinary Medicine providing collection kits for testing.

  • Stephen Munger, PhD, director of the UF Center for Smell and Taste is preparing to publish a piece in The Conversation about news that many patients who test positive for COVID-19 are reporting new symptoms such as the loss of smell and taste.

  • The Office of Clinical Research, our IRB and a UF COVID-19 Clinical Trial Group are standing up a rapid response group to facilitate COVID-19 clinical trials implementation without compromising limited clinical care resources. Our first COVID-19 clinical study using Sarilumab, an IL-6 receptor blocker, has been approved, with more under development. UF research facilities in Lake Nona are testing  new antiviral treatments for COVID-19, while our clinical research teams are beginning clinical trials for patients admitted to our facilities.

Finally, with so much stress and anxiety in the community these days, the director of the wellness programs at the UF College of Medicine – Jacksonville  is offering timely tips on our COVID-19 website on how to give your mind and soul some much-needed downtime.

As we continue to see, Americans are looking to their physicians and care teams for treatment, guidance and reassurance to help them through this health crisis. I am honored to work in this profession alongside you who serve with grace, compassion and dedication. Please continue to care for yourselves, your families and for each other. We will get through this together. 

Wishing you and your loved ones good health during this difficult time .
Leon L. Haley Jr., M.D., M.H.S.A., CPE, FACEP
Vice President for Health Affairs, University of Florida
Dean, College of Medicine – Jacksonville
CEO, UF Health Jacksonville

P.S. To learn more about UF Health Jacksonville's response, needs and community role related to COVID-19 please visit our website here
UF Health Jacksonville | UFHealthJax.org
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