Shands Jacksonville becoming 'UF Health'

Hospital officials hoping name change appeals to patents with a choice


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – First it was University Hospital. Then UF&Shands Medical Center, which most knew as Shands Jacksonville. Now Jacksonville's community hospital is changing its name again -- to UF Health Jacksonville.

"Research conducted in the fall of 2012 indicated that the hospital's tie to UF has positive brand recognition in the highly competitive Jacksonville market," said Russ Armistead, the medical center's chief executive officer.

Officials say they hope the name change will help the facility shed the image of a county hospital meant only for people in serious car accidents or an inability to pay. The CEO said the hospital must attract patients with a choice for care in order to stay alive and continue to help the less fortunate.

People in Jacksonville acknowledge the image problem.

Asked what comes to mind when asked about Shands Jacksonville, LaCoe Shaprio said: "It's not good.  I sweat to you, that's what I hear."

"I don't know about the best medical service, but I know they just got a lot of resources for people who may not have insurance or incomes," said Jacob Childre.

Hospital administrators admits the hospital's reputation has not kept up with what it has to offer.

Armistead says it's clearly a perception problem.

"What's happened is our reputation in the community hadn't kept up with what we've done," he said.

The hospital has only been Shands Jacksonville since 1999, when Shands HealthCare bought University Medical Center and Methodist Medical Center.  Between the hospital and the medical school, UF Health in Jacksonville is the fifth largest employer in this area.

The UF in UF Health Jacksonville calls attention to the thriving academic world here, which includes 32 training programs and 340 residents, half of whom tend to stay where they train.

The fact that the hospital has so many doctors in training in Jacksonville means this area is not likely to suffer the doctor shortage so many people are worried about.

"We're at any one time training about 170 doctors who are staying in Jacksonville," said Daniel Wilson, M.D., dean of the UF College of Medicine in Jacksonville. "So that's a lot of doctors."

Hospital officials couldn't give a dollar figure on what the name change will cost, but say they have spent about $750,000 so far.