Officials from University of Florida Health, the city of Gainesville and Alachua County held a virtual groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday for a 9,000-square-foot urgent care center in East Gainesville.
The clinic, to be built on Hawthorne Road next to the Gainesville Technology Entrepreneurship Center (GTEC), is part of a joint city and county initiative to stimulate growth on the east side of Gainesville.
The groundbreaking was moved online due to weather concerns, converting the ceremony to a series of introductory speeches and a question-and-answer session.
“This really commemorates the opportunity to take a step forward in our belief for the residents of East Gainesville,” Dr. David Nelson, senior vice president for health affairs at UF and president of UF Health, said. “Along with our friends and colleagues from the city of Gainesville and Alachua County, UF Health is clearly devoted to working together to expand health care services in our community.”
The UF Health Urgent Care Center — Eastside will be open 12 hours a day, seven days a week. The extended hours are intended to make care accessible without requiring residents to take time off from their jobs, according to Nelson.
The center will feature eight examination rooms, two procedure rooms, X-ray facilities and a community room.
There are big plans for the community room, according to Dr. Marvin Dewar, chief executive officer and chief medical officer of UF Health Physicians. He said the hope is for the room to be used one-third specifically for medical community education, one-third for other types of community education and one-third for community members who want to use the space for their groups.
“I think it’s very important that it’s not just an afterthought in this urgent care center, that there is this community space,” Dewar said. “It is really the intent that this be not only a medical facility where you come and get medical needs met, but it’s more than that, it’s a community gathering place and a value-add place.”
The urgent care center plans have been molded in part by listening sessions, which Nelson said helped UF Health ensure the center will address issues the Eastside community sees. With elements like the community room, Nelson said the clinic can continue to listen and adjust to fit the community’s needs.
“I think there is room for growth,” Nelson said of the facility that UF Heath presented to the city of Gainesville and Alachua County in 2021. “I think it’s already been built into the facility.”
Gainesville and Alachua County have each contributed $2.25 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds to the center’s total $5.7 million cost. With UF Health taking responsibility for its ongoing operations, Mayor Harvey Ward said this is a uniquely cooperative effort.
Ward said the site is the start of a push for more economic development in one of the city’s most underserved areas, in a project called the Eastside Health and Economic Development Initiative (EHEDI).
“We love the clinic,” Ward said. “It’s wonderful, it’s a huge service to the community, but it’s only the beginning. I anticipate tremendous growth.”
Ward said EHEDI has plans for the 15-acre area around the urgent care clinic, including a new city-run bus transfer station, more infrastructure and more employment. UF will host a job fair after the urgent care center’s completion, with the hope of employing East Gainesville residents.