Choosing Top-Notch Cardiovascular Care Close to Home

Steve and Trish Pavlik

Steve and Trish Pavlik

Steve Pavlik will soon see a decade-long dream come true when UF Health opens its state-of-the-art heart and vascular hospital. The facility, and a companion neuromedicine hospital, are scheduled to open in 2017.

Steve and his wife, Trish, are longtime Gainesville residents who have continually supported UF Health’s cardiovascular programs and building a new facility in the city.

“Shands is a wonderful facility, and we wanted to support UF Health’s growth,” Trish Pavlik said. “We are blessed. 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.”
The UF Health Heart & Vascular Hospital will focus solely on patients with heart and vascular needs while the UF Health Neuromedicine Hospital will focus on patients with neurologic needs. Housed in one contiguous building, each hospital’s focus will give patients concentrated care for some of the most complex health conditions. Consolidating cardiac and neurologic experts in one location will help provide shorter procedure times for patients and a variety of treatment options. It also will promote shorter hospital stays and faster recovery.

The Pavliks know firsthand the impact of heart surgery and how it can affect both patients and families. Steve’s experience started with a mild heart murmur. At the time, his cardiologist was not alarmed. He scheduled a baseline echocardiogram and yearly follow-up exams and diagnostics. But the heart murmur got progressively worse.

During one follow-up visit, “my cardiologist advised me to consult a cardiothoracic surgeon,” he said. He needed an aortic valve replacement. Surprised by the diagnosis, the Pavliks quickly searched for a hospital that could perform the necessary surgery and provide subsequent aftercare.

The Pavliks sent Steve’s medical records to the Cleveland Clinic, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, North Florida Regional Medical Center and UF Health Shands Hospital. Ultimately he chose UF Health because of the surgeon’s reputation, the personalized treatment he would receive and the health system’s commitment to excellence.

“My prospective cardiothoracic surgeon was very patient at my first appointment. He spent an hour and 40 minutes with me, explaining my options and answering my questions,” Steve said. “He cared, and his calm demeanor and quiet self-confidence made the difference. It was clear that UF Health was the place to have the surgery.”

Steve’s first surgery was in 2003. He had a second procedure last year 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 on the cardiac unit deserves a lion’s share of the credit. The registered nurses, patient care techs and other support staff spend the most time with patients. They’re just incredible.”

His wife also appreciated the experience at UF Health.

“When you or someone you love is sick, it can be very scary. You will be nervous,” 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.”

Once he had fully recovered, Steve became a volunteer on the cardiac unit, and Trish volunteered as a cuddler on the neonatal intensive care unit.

“Steve would ask the charge nurse (on the cardiac unit) about any patients who were undergoing surgery or ones that had no family — someone who might need a visit, ” Trish said. “It’s a scary time, but if you see someone healthy who you can talk to, it helps to alleviate some of the apprehension. Steve might say, ‘I had the same surgeon and the same procedure.’”

Steve agreed with his wife’s observations. “It was rewarding,” Steve said. “It helped me as much — if not more than — it helped the patients.”

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, so patients can have most of their health care needs met in one building. Inpatient rooms will be on the upper floors of the hospitals. The hospitals also 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, 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.”