Mayo Jacksonville hospital opens on schedule Saturday

By Jeff Hansel

JACKSONVILLE, FLA. — Internal medicine resident Dr. Aaron Broadwell jumped up and down in his bright white lab coat like a kid waiting for an amusement-park roller coaster to arrive.

"They here yet?" his voice boomed. "I’m ready."

Approximately 75 patients were expected to transfer starting early Saturday from St. Luke's Hospital to the new Mayo Clinic Hospital in Jacksonville.


Broadwell walked down the hallway by himself. He spontaneously spread his arms to mimic an airplane, tilted his imaginary flight and sailed into the excitement of his day.

"They say they are coming in already," said housekeeper Erica Tompkins. Tompkins wore a continuous smile, excited that the hospital was accepting patients after such a long time in the planning.

"We’re hoping everything goes smoothly, because we've got some sick patients coming, too," respiratory therapist William Buckey said.

"Shin! How you doing? You see, I know who you are," said Nicholas Jamele, 71, the first transfer patient to arrive, as an ambulance crew rolled his cart past nurse Shin Park.

Several medical staff members stood transfixed in the hallway, awaiting their parts in Jamele’s care and observing as if watching the first moon landing.

"Should we page Dr. Broadwell to let him know the patient’s here?" said nurse administrator Suzanne Shaw.

"I've got a patient!" Broadwell exclaimed, raising his arms straight up and giving a high-five to another physician.

Jamele, already in his bed down the hall, heard, "You’re our first person!"


He entered St. Luke’s for treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and wanted to transfer to Mayo’s hospital on opening day.

The design of the new Mayo Clinic Hospital includes a "healing environment" of art and nature. A lake will distract patients for a while.

"Look at that thing," Jamele said. "Just stock that and give me a fishing pole."

The 214-bed hospital, with the potential to eventually expand to 16 floors and 500 beds, opened on schedule at 7 a.m. Saturday. A countdown clock that had been ticking away the months, then days and then minutes finally hit zero.

Transfer patients began their 15-minute journey from Mayo’s former hospital to the new site about 8 a.m.

It was the emergency department that admitted the first patient at 7:15 a.m.

"We did have our first rescue already at around the same time," said Cindy Danner, the department’s nurse manager. "We’ve already had a walk-in."

By 9:30, five patients had been seen for possible emergency department admission.


Upstairs, Broadwell took in the atmosphere with glee.

"This morning I felt like a kid on Christmas when I came over here," he said.

For more information, go to

Mayo Clinic Jacksonville

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