Move is on at Florida hospital

By Jeff Hansel

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Planners believed it could take up to eight hours today to ferry patients to the new $254 million Mayo Clinic Hospital.

The move from Mayo’s former site, St. Luke’s Hospital, is to be completed by early this evening, with up to 75 patients being transferred.

Like a new restaurant with a fast-approaching opening day, finishing touches on the hospital continued throughout this week.


"You’re sure this is going to be ready by Monday, huh?" transplant surgeon Dr. Thomas Gonwa asked lightheartedly midweek as he walked past piles of still-unopened boxes.

"Yeah, by hook or by crook, it’s going to be ready," said Operations Administrator Susan Umerley.

Mayo officials long wanted a new hospital so staff could give up the commute to and from St. Luke’s. But it was unrealistic to take construction money from the clinic’s savings.

According to the newsletter Mayo Clinic Checkup, it’s the first time a major Mayo building project was funded without doing so.

The six-floor hospital, expandable to 16, got most of the money it needed from the sale of St. Luke’s to St. Vincent’s HealthCare. More than $87 million came from community gifts.

Another first for Mayo was the clinic’s request that staff make contributions. They did so — to the tune of $1.7 million.

The hospital was to open at 7 a.m. today with 214 beds. Someday, it could expand to 500.

The opening starts a new chapter for Mayo in Florida, and for the national Mayo Foundation, "the first and largest integrated, not-for-profit group practice in the world." Mayo first came to Jacksonville in 1986 and has grown into an economic powerhouse for Florida, with an annual economic impact of more than $1 billion.


Umerley said patients will love the new hospital, which rests on the same campus as outpatient services. So will Mayo staff, many of whom have boxes full of office supplies awaiting to be unpacked.

"They came on Monday and moved ours, and they came and moved anything we could box up and live without for a week," Umerley said.

But whether employees get completely unpacked or not today, patients expected care to begin by early morning.

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