When Steve Pavlik, a former engineering and construction firm president from Gainesville, learned he needed heart surgery in 2003 — his aortic valve was obstructed and needed to be replaced — he approached the problem like a typical CPA: analytically. He researched journal articles, met with experts from across the country and spoke to people who had a similar problem. What he discovered was that one of his best options was in his hometown.
After cardiovascular surgeons at UF Health Shands performed surgery in December of that year that saved his life, Pavlik began a decadelong crusade to help others with heart disease. In addition to volunteering on the cardiac unit, where he met with others facing similar difficulties and fears, he has spent years campaigning for a state-of-the-art heart and vascular hospital at UF to “attract the best doctors and keep the ones we have here.”
Pavlik will soon see his dream come true when UF Health opens the UF Health Heart & Vascular Hospital and its companion UF Health Neuromedicine Hospital in 2017. Housed in one contiguous building, each hospital will provide concentrated care for some of the most complex health conditions.
Pavlik and his wife, Trish, have not only championed the idea of building a hospital dedicated to heart and vascular care, they also have supported the project with a private gift in the form of a charitable remainder trust valued at $100,000.
“UF Health Shands is a wonderful facility, and we wanted to support UF Health’s growth,” Trish said. “We are blessed that we don’t have to travel to other cities or out of state for medical care. We want to make sure to keep local health care to a higher standard.”
Last year, Pavlik had a second surgery to replace the original aortic valve and add a pacemaker implant.
“The caregivers at UF Health are so dedicated — I can’t say enough good things about the doctors and nurses,” he said.
“The staff of the cardiac unit deserves a lion’s share of the credit. The registered nurses, patient care techs and other support staff are just incredible.”
His wife also appreciated the experience at UF Health.
“When you or someone you love is sick, it can be very scary,” Trish said. “You can feel confident that you are where you need to be, getting the best possible care you can have. We did our research and knew Steve was in the best of hands.”
Encompassing a total of 521,104 square feet, the new hospitals will have a combined 216 rooms. Radiology, presurgery, laboratory and other support services will be on the first floor of both hospitals, and inpatient rooms will be on the upper floors. The hospitals will feature multiple hybrid operating rooms with the capability of adapting to rapidly changing medical technology.
“Mr. Pavlik has dreamed of having a state-of-the-art cardiovascular hospital for more than 10 years — and now we can realize that dream together,” said Thomas Beaver, MD, MPH, chief in the division of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery at the UF College of Medicine. “We are looking for friends of the university to help support this vision. It’s not just for people in Gainesville. UF Health serves people in Florida and the Southeast. We are one of the few hospitals that received patients from nearly every state in the union last year.”