South Florida Hospital News
Thursday May 24, 2018
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May 2017 - Volume 13 - Issue 11

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Michel Credits Leadership, Staff for Continued Growth of Larkin Programs, Facilities

Charter School latest addition to hospital’s holdings 

When Jack Michel, M.D., joined Larkin Community Hospital in South Miami in 1998, his first few years were spent streamlining operations to ensure quality of care in the 112-bed medical/surgical/psychiatric facility. Once that was accomplished, the president and chairman of the board turned his attention toward providing services that were missing in the market—something that still drives him today.
 
“In order to compete in this industry, you need to look for things that aren’t provided by other hospitals, and post-graduate medical education was one of those things,” he explained. “That led us to starting residency programs, and we’ve since become the third largest statutory teaching hospital in Florida, ranking only behind UF Health Shands in Gainesville and Jackson Health System in our number of residents and training programs.”
 
Following that success, Larkin continued to expand, establishing the Larkin School of Nursing, College of Biomedical Sciences and College of Health Sciences. This past August, the hospital opened its College of Pharmacy, the first of its kind in Miami, and the only one offering a three-year PharmD program in Florida. It is now recruiting for its second class. These schools are part of the new Larkin University, a not-for-profit affiliate recently approved by the Commission for Independent Education of the Florida Department of Education.
 
“One of the reasons behind this investment in education is that we believe that working in silos is one of the primary causes of hospital errors,” said Dr. Michel. “We bury a population the size of Miami every year because of these errors, which are the result of a lack of communication among healthcare providers.
 
“By offering interprofessional education, where medical residents, pharmacy students and nursing students all work together to help patients, we move away from this silo mentality,” he continued. “When students are trained that way, after they graduate, they will continue to work together.”
While educating medical professionals is a priority, it is also important to encourage younger students to enter the medical field. To this end, the hospital was recently approved by the Miami Dade County Public School Board for the Larkin Middle School for the Health Sciences, a charter school for sixth- to eighth-graders that will prepare them for degrees in health sciences and offer mentorships in the field. The school, which will open this August, will be tuition-free for Miami-Dade County residents.
 
“We saw a big education deficit in terms of reaching middle and high school students in public schools who were interested in healthcare, but who didn’t have the means to go to private schools to get exposed to health careers and mentoring,” said Dr. Michel. “Statistics show that our workforce doesn’t represent the population here; Hispanics and African-Americans are underrepresented. That means that we’re not doing a good job of getting these students involved in healthcare careers.
 
“Our pharmacy students, nursing students and medical residents are a very diverse group, who will serve as great role models to our charter school students,” he added, noting that minorities make up 80 percent of this population.
 
In addition to Larkin’s educational programs, the hospital expanded its medical facilities as well. Larkin holdings now include Larkin Community Hospital, with campuses in South Miami and Palm Springs/Hialeah; the 50-bed Larkin Behavioral Health Services in Hollywood; Floridian Gardens assisted living facility; the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills; five imaging centers in Miami-Dade County, and Larkin Home Health Services with two locations in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
 
“When we identify a gap in care, we make it a part of our mission,” said Dr. Michel, crediting Larkin’s growth to human resources and leadership. “If you don’t have people in key places in the C-suite, this type of growth won’t happen; you need leadership that understands the vision and executes it."
 
“We also have 2,000 employees, each as important as the other, who are all ambassadors of Larkin and continually think of ways to grow and provide more services,” he added. “Not all of our projects are money-making, but as long as we can be fiscally responsible, we will continue to grow to meet the changing healthcare needs of our community.”
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