City council, UF Health officials address financial concerns over Shands Hospital

There are funding concerns surrounding UF Health Jacksonville, the city’s only hospital that treats those who can’t afford to pay.

UF Health Jacksonville, currently known as UF Health Shands Hospital, has been a place for those who don’t have insurance to go and get help. This hospital is also where inmates at the Duval County jail end up going for medical help.

UF Health CEO Patrick Green said the patient population that comes from correctional facilities is “significant.”

“Close to 5% of our emergency department visits are from inmate population,” Green said. “So we’re just here to ascribe the value that you have to this community and to work with the city to come up with solutions.”

The city owns the facility and rents it to UF Health. In an agreement, the city pays for indigent health care.

A special report indicates for the fiscal year 2022-2023 and 2023-2024, the city provided $40 million each year in combined funding from the general fund and American Rescue Plan funding.

During a special city council workshop on Wednesday, News4JAX learned more about the hospital’s role and funding — including inmate healthcare and what would happen if the city builds a new jail.

“Educate. I wanted to educate the council and the community on UF Health, which includes inmate care. Tying in a new jail is also part of that, and understanding their financial situation this year, and the outlook moving forward,” City Council President Ron Salem said.

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JSO also spends over $7 million a year guarding those inmates while at UF Health.

Lately, there have been growing concerns about health care for inmates given the deaths that have occurred at the jail.

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“As we build a new jail, I’m one of those that believe we need an infirmary there where a lot of the situations could be handled in the jail, you would need the security. And I think that’s the most appropriate place for those inmates to be treated,” Salem said.

News4JAX learned that 60% of all of the inmates at the jail are on some type of medication.

In terms of the future of the new jail, officials said that they are trying to come up with a short-term solution until a new jail can be built.

City councilman Michael Boylan said it is possible that the sheriff’s office would move away to an office building, most likely the Florida Blue building in Riverside.

“I think there’s a good chance that might happen. I don’t know if there’s any interest on the part of the sheriff. But there’s a process that has to go through. We want to make sure that we live up to that process. And we could see that in the next two or three years. If funding is able to wait and return an appropriate number as you know what already is being housed at that facility is coming out of the sheriff’s budget,” Boylan said.

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