Gov. DeSantis presents UF Health Jacksonville with $80 million check, honors recently passed Dr. Haley

Dr. Leon Haley Jr. died in personal watercraft accident

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Governor Ron DeSantis was in Jacksonville Monday morning to help honor a legacy.

DeSantis Presented UF Health Jacksonville with an $80 million check that will be used to build a new trauma facility named after Dr. Leon Haley.

“This will have a significant impact on this community, I think a lot of the different projects that get done, this is something that had huge support,” DeSantis said. “We’re also happy to announce that the new state-of-the-art trauma center will be named after Leon Haley Jr., MD Trauma Center, named after Dr. Leon Haley Jr.”

DeSantis announced the money will be included in Florida’s 2022-23 budget when he officially approves it later this year, Jax Daily Record reports.

DeSantis said the new trauma center will provide Jacksonville community members with better access to health services.

“This project will provide better access to emergency health services for the Jacksonville community, as well as high-quality care,” DeSantis said. “UF’s emergency department draws patients from across the area including residents from Nassau, Clay, St. Johns and Baker counties. With the new trauma center, it’s expected to see over 125,000 patients per year. Outside of Jacksonville, the closest trauma centers are either Gainesville or Savannah. So this trauma center will not only benefit the Jacksonville community, but also the surrounding communities who need access to emergency care. UF Health is a top-notch institution, that not only serves the community but prepares our doctors for the future. The hospital is Florida’s first Level 1 trauma center, it’s also the only Level 1 trauma center in the region.”

Dr. Haley was UF Health’s first black CEO. He died last year in a wave runner accident in Palm Beach.

Related: ‘One of a kind’: Jacksonville community honors life, legacy of Dr. Leon Haley Jr. | UF Health Jacksonville CEO remembered as a family man & proud father of 3

His family was on hand for Monday’s check presentation.

Grant D. Haley, the son of UF Health Jacksonville CEO Dr. Leon Haley Jr., thanked the governor and said the honor for his father was special to the family and the community as a whole.

“Every single time I got to visit, I got to see the hospital and I got to see his vision of what he wanted the city to truly be like,” Haley said. “My siblings and I watched my father work at Grady Hospital and the trauma center that they had over there. You know, it was really important to him to be able to be a hero, I think that’s how my father envisioned himself. It’s a special moment for all of us to be able to remember him by having the Leon Haley Trauma Center at UF Health,” Grant Haley said. “I think his legacy goes far beyond just being a trauma doctor or a CEO. He taught me so many values and lessons on being a man of service, a man of faith, a man that…you know what truly is a man? Not somebody who’s in the spotlight but does the dirty work when people aren’t looking. It’s a blessing to be able to sit up here and talk on behalf of not just my family, but my siblings, they wish they could be here…I think to be able to come up here and spend this time is really important for me.”

The project is included in the General Appropriations Act recently passed by the Legislature. The new trauma center will replace the current, outdated and overcrowded trauma center at UF Health Jacksonville to better serve residents of Duval, Nassau, Clay, St. Johns, and other counties in North Florida. UF Health’s trauma center in Jacksonville is the only Level-1 trauma center in the region.

The UF Health Jacksonville Leon L. Haley, Jr. M.D. Trauma Center will be built on the medical center’s campus located on Eighth Street in Downtown Jacksonville. The current center is heavily used, serving around 125,000 patients a year and is the only Level-1 trauma center located between Gainesville, FL and Savannah, GA.

The center will be better equipped to provide a safer environment for Baker Act patients and others with mental health issues. The project is expected to be completed and operational in the next four years.

Dr. Haley was the first person in Jacksonville to get the COVID-19 Vaccine.

About the Author:

Carianne Luter is a social media producer for News4Jax and has worked at Channel 4 since December 2015. She graduated from the University of North Florida with a communication degree.