Residents with incurable diseases, veterans in need and children who require specialists aren’t the only ones who will benefit from the budding Lake Nona medical city.
Each medical center within the “city” has committed to not only caring for their patients, but to also finding a way to tackle health issues within the community. The concept is new, but the “healthy community” approach is gaining speed in Lake Nona, where six major medical and research centers will be operating by 2012.
The medical players include the University of Central Florida Health Sciences Campus — the College of Medicine and the Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences — Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Nemours children’s hospital, M.D. Anderson Cancer Research Institute and University of Florida’s Research Institute.
Nemours children’s hospital
In addition to treating the children who come to Nemours, they will soon help children in the community learn to lead healthier lives.
Healthy Habits for Life, an after-school program at Harmony Community School in Osceola County, teaches students lessons about nutrition from a dietician, engages them in physical activity and gets them into the garden. Nemours hopes to implement the program in other areas.
“We will be doing more of these projects because we really do feel that we can teach healthy habits in the community,” said Lloyd Werk, chief consultative of pediatrics.
Nemours will hire 800 employees to work in the hospital, which is expected to open in the third quarter of 2012.
VA Medical Center
The VA Medical Center, which will hire about 2,100 people and will open in the fall of 2012, plans to get the community healthy from the inside out, by starting with their own employees. A big part of that will be walking work stations where computers are mounted onto a slower version of a treadmill where employees can exercise while doing computer work.
“A goal of mine with this new VA Medical Center is to make sure we do it right and build on this notion of healthy communities by engaging the employees” said Timothy Liezert, VA Medical Center director.
The medical center also offers virtual lifestyle coaching for employees.
Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute
Scientists from Sanford Burnham will visit schools throughout the area to talk to students about scientific education to help rally students into science-related careers. More than 150 people are already working at the institute that will employ 300 at build out.
They also plan to help the local community and beyond through the research, which is focused on diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular complications and cancer.
“In 50 years, we have the couch potato and 50 percent of the population is overweight and so how did we get here?” Shelia Collins said, a professor at Sanford Burnham. “… it’s the intersection of genes and the environment.”
Located next to Sanford-Burnham will be the UF Research Center, which will allow UF students to work directly with the scientists.
UCF College of Medicine
The College of Medicine started out with 40 students and has graduated to 100 with the goal of ultimately reaching 480 students.
The College of Medicine will launch a clinical practice that focuses on patient safety while coordinating care between multiple specialists. The college is the first medical school in the U.S. to be a part of the World Health Organization’s patient safety curriculum.
The college will introduce the use of electronic records.
Wendy Spirduso, public relations coordinator for the College of Medicine, said students gain valuable communication skills within the first week of school by interacting and treating patient actors.
M.D. Anderson is located in the UCF Burnett Biomedical building in which they will be focusing on cancer research.