In recent years there has been an avalanche of negative criticism and publicity leveled at the leadership of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, both from within and without the university community. So much so that this has overshadowed the major advances the medical school has made in the last few years.
Seven years ago with the arrival of Dean Pascal Goldschmidt, and with the support of President Donna Shalala and the medical school faculty, we set out to build a first-class quaternary healthcare system, capable of attracting the best minds and performing the best research in the world. The progress we have made so far towards this goal in such a short period of time has been nothing short of astounding, and has already significantly elevated the academic standing and reputation, not only of our medical school, but of the entire university.
This is good for us, and it is good for our community. In fact, a listing of all the new state-of-the-art institutions, specialized centers, clinical programs, and distinguished faculty that have been founded, initiated or recruited at the Miller School during this time are too numerous to mention here, but have already had a major impact where it matters most — on the care we provide to our patients. We are well on our way to achieving status as one of the top medical centers and premier research-based health systems in the country.
Unfortunately, building a first-class university healthcare system next door to our long-time and cherished partner, Jackson Memorial Hospital (JMH), came at a delicate time when JMH was experiencing severe financial problems. Consequently, and I think unfairly, the leadership’s efforts were misinterpreted as being intentionally injurious to JMH, even by some of our own faculty. In my personal opinion and based on my previous experience, nothing could be further from the truth. A unique transformation is happening here, and along with it, we are experiencing some financial challenges, hurdles and criticisms. These hiccups are inevitable and are part and parcel with change and growth in any enterprise.
What’s clear is that UM and JMH in partnership continue to be dedicated to the care and well-being of our patients, so that no patient in our community — rich or poor, insured or uninsured — is compelled to travel elsewhere to receive the best medical care in the world. JMH has been, must be and will continue to be, an integral and essential partner in this mission. I’m honored to be one among many engaged in the trenches to be building this first-class medical center in our city.
Ernesto A. Pretto, Jr. M.D., professor and chief, Division of Solid Organ Transplant and Vascular Anesthesia, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and Jackson Memorial Hospital