Haley starts new CEO role while serving as UF College of Medicine – Jacksonville dean
It’s been quite the year for Leon L. Haley Jr., MD, MHSA.
In January 2017, the UF Health community welcomed him as dean of the University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville. Fast forward 12 months, he’s now CEO of UF Health Jacksonville, too.
Haley succeeds Russ Armistead, who retired at the end of December after leading the hospital since 2013. Haley will retain his roles as dean as well as vice president for health affairs at the University of Florida. His first day as CEO was Jan. 1.
“Since I’ve been here, everybody has been warm and engaging as they’ve welcomed me to the health system and to the Jacksonville community,” Haley said. “I’m humbled and excited about the opportunity to now to also move into the CEO role.”
Haley, who came to Jacksonville from Grady Memorial Hospital and Emory University in Atlanta, said he was initially drawn to UF Health because of the quality faculty and staff, dedication to safety-net care and potential for growth. While reflecting on his first year, Haley speaks of the momentum on the downtown campus and at UF Health North, which has since opened an inpatient bed tower to complement the medical office building. Leaders are planning for even further expansion there.
From a college standpoint, Haley is excited about key leadership positions being filled, such as senior associate dean for clinical affairs, and the various research projects that have begun or will soon commence on campus. He wants research to become a greater focus.
Haley also looks forward to the College of Medicine – Jacksonville collaborating more with the College of Nursing and College of Pharmacy. He believes an interdisciplinary approach can only enhance learning and training activity.
Haley said quality will continue to be a top focus, as the hospital has made significant improvements in a number of metrics in recent years, such as reducing various infection rates and improving mortality. He wants UF Health Jacksonville to eventually land in the top 10 of the Vizient Quality and Accountability study. This past year, the hospital jumped from 77th to 44th nationally.
Financial stability and fiscal responsibility will also remain a priority. Haley seeks to explore new fundraising opportunities, work closer with the city and garner more support from the philanthropic community.
“We will continue to work on revenue and operations to ensure we’re functioning as efficiently as we can,” he said. “We also want to take care of our employees. Results are in from the employee engagement survey, and we will have teams to methodically work through the areas of concern.”
In addition, Haley points to the excitement of the planned Wildlight community in neighboring Nassau County, which will feature 1,000 new homes on 260 acres. As the official health care partner, UF Health will build facilities and develop programs to promote healthy living there.
“This initiative is representative of our redefined aim,” Haley said. “Our vision is to become the region’s most valuable health care asset.”
Serving as CEO and dean
Haley said when he was recruited to be dean, UF Health leaders hinted at the idea of him also possibly stepping into the CEO role one day, though there was no guarantee. The key was to get acclimated and see how he handled the first several months as dean.
“I’m not a power-hungry person. However, it’s nice to know the health system has a single leader to help drive a lot of the initiatives,” Haley said. “The potential for this situation excited me, and I think that’s one of the reasons I looked at the opportunity when I was at Emory.”
In balancing the CEO and dean roles, Haley said it will be essential to rely on the talents and expertise of the leaders and other personnel around him.
“I’m a big believer in delegating and giving people opportunities to lead and thrive,” Haley said. “I touch base with them a lot, but I try not to micromanage. My job will be to make sure we can collaborate and pull everything together to ensure we’re pushing our health system in the right direction.”
David S. Guzick, MD, PhD, senior vice president for health affairs at the University of Florida and president of UF Health, lauded Haley after the hospital’s board of directors named him CEO in September.
“It’s clear to anyone who has had the good fortune of working with Dr. Haley, both in his role as a physician and as an administrator, that he is a man of incredible talent,” Guzick said. “He has brought such positive energy and expertise to the college that we felt it made perfect sense to have him lead this great organization, a model that follows how many other academic health centers are structured.”
While in Atlanta, Haley served as vice chair and professor of emergency medicine and executive associate dean at Emory, and was chief medical officer of the Emory Medical Care Foundation. He also served as deputy senior vice president of medical affairs and chief of emergency medicine for Grady.
Prior to his positions at Grady and Emory, Haley was a senior staff physician at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit.