by Brian Harris, Akerman, LLP
On January 13, 2016, the Leadership Tampa Class of 2016 got a firsthand look into the state of heath care in Tampa. We started at Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel with a presentation by Denyse Bales-Chubb, President and CEO of Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel. Already an impressive facility, Florida Hospital was built with expansion in mind. As the needs of the region have grown, so too will the hospital. The hospital is in the middle of an expansion that will double the size of its patient rooms, operating rooms and emergency rooms. The grand opening for the new additions is currently scheduled for December 2016. One of the interesting things that we learned is that the success of Florida Hospital is due in no small part to its mission, which is to provide a higher level of patient engagement and care. Florida Hospital seeks doctors and staff who want to be truly engaged in all aspects of patient care. Part of this mission is visible in its Creation Health program, which focuses on choice, rest, environment, activity, trust, interpersonal relationships, outlook and nutrition. We concluded our outing to Florida Hospital in Wesley Chapel with a tour of its 50,000 sq ft. health and wellness facility. The facility is one way that the Florida Hospital engages the community to focus on total wellness. It includes a state-of-the-art fitness facility and aquatic center, and it has programs which focus on healthy eating, stress management, physical conditioning and weight management. It also offers a variety of educational programs and seminars on healthy living. Next, it was on to Moffitt Cancer Center. To say Moffitt is impressive would be an understatement. It is a $1 billion organization housed in a two million sq. ft. facility. It has over 5,000 team members and provides cutting edge cancer treatment. It is the only National Cancer Institute (NCI) designated cancer center based in Florida and is one of only 45 in the entire country. Moffitt sees 15,000 new patients per year and more than 320,000 total patient visits. Approximately 300,000 sq. ft. of the facility and a yearly budget of $60 million is devoted to research. There are 155 faculty members and 700 staff fellows. We started with a briefing from Dr. Thomas Sellers, Director, Cancer Center and Moffitt Research Institute, Executive Vice President, on some of the cancer research that is being done at Moffitt. Following that introduction, we were treated to an in depth lecture on Integrated Mathematical Oncology by Drs. Robert Gatenby and Alexander Anderson. I wish I could say that I followed every word of their lecture, but …. Seriously though, they did a great job breaking down a very complicated topic in a manner in which even we could understand. They are developing complex models to describe cancer growth and treatment, but they are not focusing on just the cancer itself. The important part of their work is not looking at the cancers in isolation but in the context of how cancers interact with various systems and processes of the body. We often hear of cancer research in the abstract, but now we have some idea of the complex work that is being done in this field. As with every class day, lunch is another opportunity to learn. We heard a distinguished panel discuss current health care issues. The panel with moderated by Mary Shedden (News Director WUSF) and included Randall Woods (Senior Director of Sales Florida Blue West Region), Dr. Edmund Funai (COO and Vice President for Administration, USF Health), Dr. Margarita Cabrera-Cancio (Infectious Disease Associates of Tampa Bay), Lorraine Lutton (President, St. Joseph's Hospital) and Yvette Tremonti (Executive Vice President and CFO, Moffitt Cancer Center). If there was any question of the importance of health care to the state and country, we learned that over 30% of Florida's budget is spent on Medicaid, and 20% of the United States GDP is spent on health care. This was a great opportunity to learn more about this important issue and pose some tough questions to the panel members. After lunch the class traveled downtown to the Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation (CAMLS). If you have ever wondered where doctors and other medical professionals train and keep their skills up to date, it is here. This facility provides a variety of different medical simulations that allow doctors to practice and learn in a manner that is as close to possible to working on actual patents. Several of our class members tried their hand at delivering babies, minimally invasive surgery and trauma care. Needless to say, it's not easy and nobody from the class is going to be moonlighting at one of our local hospitals. In addition to training, CAMLS also provides a facility where doctors and others can work on developing the next generation of medical devices, from initial concept and creation of prototypes through to final products. The day ended with an informative presentation by Debbie Rinde-Hoffman who is the director of the Cardiac Transplant Program at Tampa General Hospital. We learned about the current state of organ transplants and the great work that her team is doing right here in Tampa. And if that were not enough, we concluded with an inspirational testimonial from Melissa Ranieri who's own son received a life-saving transplant. While we have no doubt that the day just scratched the surface on health care, it was exciting to learn about all the great facilities, state of the art treatment and cutting edge research going on right here in Tampa. We are truly lucky to have all these resources in our community.