Gainesville Unveils New Surgical Center

By Eric Althoff

GAINESVILLE, Fla.—The University of Florida Health system has announced the completion of The Oaks Mall, a $24 million surgical center that will focus on eye as well as ear, nose and throat (ENT) care. The Oaks brings together under one roof various UF Health ophthalmology and otolaryngology practices. Some of its onsite features include facilities dedicated to audiology, radiology, MRIs, X-rays and CT scans.

Phase 1 of the work, completed in January, entailed the actual clinical areas of The Oaks, including 87 exam rooms, 15 procedure rooms, eight treatment rooms and 10 sound booths. Other parts of the newer construction are variously set up as a waiting area, family consultation area, as well as 19 pre-op and post-anesthesia care units and five operating rooms.

The Oaks will be able to service not just those locally, but regional patients from neighboring states including Georgia and Alabama. Common procedures that will be handled at The Oaks include tonsillectomies and adenoidectomies, as well as sinus surgeries and the insertion of various types of ear tubes.

Work on the 23,500-square-foot surgical facility was undertaken by contractor Charles Perry Partners (CPPI), which transformed a former Sears retail space into a modern healthcare facility.

UF Health Shands CEO Ed Jimenez said that this part of Florida, partly because of expanding population, requires more specialized medical practitioners like ENT experts. And more doctors employed under his company’s banner meant more room was needed to practice.

“It’s the culmination of a long road, and that road started with patients who really wanted the world-class care that we offer, not just in Gainesville but throughout Florida and the region,” Jimenez said in a recent statement. “We’re proud to offer the most comprehensive eye and ENT services in the state.

“We hope this will serve as a model on how hospitals can best serve their patients by making access to services as convenient as possible.”

The Oaks, situated near to Interstate 75, has 500 parking spaces as well as access to nearby shopping, dining and other amenities—thus bringing into the center of Gainesville a suite of specialized medical care.

Sonal S. Tuli, M.D., chair of the UF College of Medicine’s department of ophthalmology, said in a recent statement that having the surgical center at the same location as the healthcare provider’s general practice will benefit the community.

“Since the practice is optimized for eye and ENT, all the staff will be very familiar with surgeries involving those specialties, unlike other operating rooms where you have multiple specialties working,” Tuli said in her statement. “That makes it more efficient and benefits the patient.”

The Oaks is the latest collaboration between CPPI and UF Health. The two entities have previously worked jointly on the UF Health Springhill Building III, an addition to the Springhill health care campus on 39th Ave. in Northwest Gainesville.

“This has been a truly amazing project,” CPPI Project Director Jake Plein said in a recent statement, adding that the transformation of the building from a former Sears into a cutting-edge medical-use facility will benefit many people. “We held our first team-building session in the area that was once an automotive center. Now, it’s a brand-new radiology and surgical suite.

“I look forward to teaming with UF Health again for the opportunity to help provide innovative and comprehensive healthcare for the community.”