Ushering in a new era for UF Health and Shriners Hospitals for Children

UF Health and Shriners Hospitals for Children have forged a unique relationship that will have a meaningful impact for children with musculoskeletal problems.

The two institutions announced in October that Shriners Hospitals for Children will create the Shriners professorship in pediatric orthopaedics, the Shriners fellowship in pediatric orthopaedics and funding for improvements at the pediatric orthopaedic practice to help enhance the patient experience. The commitment will provide ongoing support for research, faculty and staff development, program enhancements and continuing education related to the care of pediatric orthopaedic patients at both UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital and the UF Health Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Institute.

Since opening the doors of its first hospital in Shreveport, Louisiana, in 1922, Shriners Hospitals for Children has grown into an internationally recognized pediatric specialty health care system with hospitals in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

The Shriners endowed professorship in pediatric orthopaedics supports a UF College of Medicine faculty member who demonstrates commitment to the treatment of orthopaedic diseases that adversely affect the lives, well-being, comfort and happiness of children. The professorship has been awarded to Laurel Blakemore, M.D., division chief of pediatric orthopaedics in the UF College of Medicine’s department of orthopaedics and rehabilitation. Blakemore is nationally known for her expertise in complex spinal deformity, scoliosis and general pediatric orthopaedics.

The Shriners endowed fellowship in pediatric orthopaedics supports the training of physicians at the UF College of Medicine who will specialize in treating children with congenital deformities and conditions, neuromusculoskeletal diseases, orthopaedic injuries and rare bone diseases.

Grants from Shriners Hospitals for Children will help create and equip clinical space dedicated to pediatric orthopaedics at the UF Health Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine Institute. This space will be recognized as a Shriners Center of Excellence. Included will be the purchase of a second EOS X-ray, a low-dose, 3D imaging system that allows practitioners to view the interaction between a patient’s joints and the rest of the musculoskeletal system, including the legs, hips and spine.

The commitment from Shriners Hospitals for Children was lauded by David R. Nelson, M.D., senior vice president for health affairs at UF and president of UF Health.

“The affiliation with Shriners Hospitals for Children allows UF Health to advance our practice in specialty orthopaedics through comprehensive clinical research and improved treatments for children with unique and life-altering skeletal conditions,” Nelson said. “We are grateful for this special association, which also provides unparalleled training opportunities for future generations of orthopaedics practitioners.”

Mark T. Scarborough, M.D., a professor and chair of the UF College of Medicine’s department of orthopedics and rehabilitation, said the opportunities to work with and care for this special population of patients help faculty, residents and fellows alike enhance their knowledge and skills in pediatric care.

“We are thrilled to have the chance to recognize and expand the work of one of our current clinical leaders through the endowed professorship,” Scarborough said. “We look forward to sharing our research and outcomes regularly with Shriners Hospitals for Children.”

Fleury Yelvington, the Shriners Healthcare for ChildrenFlorida administrator, noted the importance of the agreement. “As an affiliate, UF Health will perpetuate the mission of Shriners with its long-standing reputation of outstanding pediatric care, innovative research and comprehensive training of clinical professionals who have advanced medical care around the world.”

The new relationship between Shriners Hospitals for Children and UF Health was recognized Oct. 4 with a signing ceremony that included UF President Kent Fuchs, members of the SHC-Florida Board of Governors and the members of UF Foundation Board of Directors.

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