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HHS Secretary visits Dolphin Pointe

US HHS Secretary acknowledges success, potential of Dolphin Pointe

US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis acknowledged both the success and potential of the unique partnership between Dolphin Pointe Health Care and Jacksonville University during a visit to the health care facility on Friday.

“This is a good example of why Florida has done much better, particularly in protecting the elderly, than most other states,” Gov. DeSantis told a gathering of Dolphin Pointe health care providers. “This model is being replicated throughout Florida.”

Through a partnership with the state, Dolphin Pointe is currently home for 66 COVID-19 positive patients who formerly resided in area assisted living or other long-term care facilities. The facility, which is located near the north end of the Jacksonville University campus, provides a model for containment and rehabilitation for long-term care residents who test positive for COVID-19.

Secretary Azar visited to both thank the Dolphin Pointe health care providers for their efforts and listen to other ideas to address the COVID-19 crisis in a round table discussion with officials from the state, providers and administrators at Dolphin Pointe, and representatives of Jacksonville University including President Tim Cost ’81 and Provost Dr. Chris Sapienza.

“I appreciate the extraordinary measures the Dolphin Pointe staff are implementing so successfully to keep our community healthy,” President Cost said. Those measures include using robots and ultraviolet light to sanitize both private and public spaces, including the meeting room used to conduct the round table discussion, health screening of everyone entering the facility, and the universal use of N-95 protective masks. Health care providers told Secretary Azar that no staff member has tested positive for the virus even though they have been caring for patients since April 14.

In the round table discussion, Secretary Azar discussed the role Jacksonville University and Dolphin Pointe could play in providing answers to questions still surrounding the pandemic, including the possibility of conducting clinical trials and treatment and rehabilitation protocols.

“We can test methods for detecting antibodies,” said Dr. Sapienza, “as well as develop protocols for the treatment and rehabilitation of post-COVID patients.”

Dr. Sapienza said previous coronavirus outbreaks suggest that post-COVID patients could suffer impacts to their physical, cognitive, mental and social health.

In addition to the health care discussion, President Cost took the opportunity to thank Gov. DeSantis for his continued support of The Florida EPIC (Entrepreneurial, Policy, Innovation and Commerce) Program at Jacksonville University, which provides funding to develop the types of experiential learning opportunities that the University and Dolphin Pointe envision.

The 100,000-square-foot, two-story Dolphin Pointe facility began development in 2016 and is part of Dolphin Pointe Landing, a 55-acre site owned by a company led by Jacksonville University graduate Gregory Nelson. Jacksonville University recently completed its three-story, 105,000-square-foot Medical Sciences Complex adjacent to Dolphin Pointe. The University expects to eventually partner with Dolphin Pointe to provide opportunities for students in the Brooks Rehabilitation College of Healthcare Sciences to gain experience in a practical, modern healthcare setting.

All photos by Deremer Studios