Hundreds of community leaders, University of Miami trustees and administrators, donors and other dignitaries helped dedicate The Lennar Foundation Medical Center on the Coral Gables campus Friday, ushering in a new world of health care imagined and realized by the University of Miami Health System.
“This is a monumental day for the University of Miami,” said Steven M. Altschuler, M.D., senior vice president for health affairs and chief executive officer of the University of Miami Health System. “It is truly a transformational moment in the history of the University of Miami Health System, and it’s also the start of a new vision for health care in South Florida. This is a facility, this is a concept, that really thinks about the patient first.”
In this new vision for health care, the patient experience is transformed into a journey of being well.
“We will know you personally, care for you individually, and guide you uniquely,” Chief Administrative Officer Benjamin J. Riestra said in a video Altschuler showed guests at the event. “This is not just about a new building. More importantly, it’s a new destination, a new experience, a new way of being well.”
University of Miami President Julio Frenk paid special tribute to Sue Miller, who died earlier this month. She was an extraordinary philanthropist, the widow of Lennar founder and former chair of the UM Board of Trustees Leonard M. Miller.
“While we all miss her warm and enthusiastic presence, we are uplifted by the very tangible evidence all around us of her kindness, generosity, and selfless devotion to others,” Frenk said. “Stuart, Leslie, and Jeffrey, on behalf of the University of Miami family, thank you for your friendship and for building on the legacy of both your parents.”
Frenk also thanked The Lennar Foundation for the $50 million gift that made the center possible.
“Today is about the building of legacies, the building of communities, and the building of futures, and we cannot expect to find better builders anywhere than Lennar,” Frenk said. “In giving back to the community where Lennar had its beginnings in 1954, The Lennar Foundation embodies one of the highest ideals of philanthropy, which is to build better futures by building healthier lives.”
Frenk described the University’s model of academic, patient-centered care. Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, the University of Miami Health System Sports Medicine Institute, men’s and women’s health, urology, neurology and other exceptional specialties will serve south Miami-Dade patients in a single convenient location.
“This is the future of health care,” he said, “and it’s the reality today at the University of Miami.”
Before the guests gathered for a ceremonial ribbon-cutting, Richard D. Fain, Chair of the UM Board of Trustees, expressed his gratitude to the Miller family and everyone else whose hard work made this day possible.
“This is an amazing day for the University, and for all of our community,” Fain said. “This is a day that was a long time in the making, but I think you would all agree it was worth the wait and should make all of us proud.”
This medical center, the culmination of extensive work on the part of Stuart A. Miller, CEO of the Lennar Corporation and a member of the UM Board of Trustees, his family, and The Lennar Foundation, “is not just a labor of money – this is clearly a labor of love.”
“I think everybody here knows that Stuart thinks big, and it was clear from the beginning that this was going to be something really good for the community. And early on Stuart said good isn’t good enough -- it needs to be transformational. I would congratulate him, the whole family and all of us on this wonderful event.”
Stuart Miller talked about his mother, and the journey to this moment. “We sit at the intersection of something lost and something gained — and they are very connected,” Miller said. “We lost a beacon in our community, for giving, for philanthropy and for all things good, and we have gained this fabulous facility … a part of the beacon she provided, a beacon that said, ‘With great success comes great responsibility.’ That notion is embedded into the fabric of the Lennar family.
“This is not just a building, it’s an experience,” Miller said. “We have a responsibility to lift up this community, and I hope that this edifice will serve as a reminder to all of us that with great success comes great responsibility.”
Miller recognized Marshall H. Ames, Chair of The Lennar Foundation, who thanked his colleagues at the foundation and everyone in the audience for this success, and introduced Riestra.
“The essence of this building is truly built on the principles of empathy and compassion for our patients, their families and, as importantly, our staff and physicians,” Riestra said.
The guests toured the Lennar Center after the ribbon cutting. Warren Robbel, a 1954 UM graduate, said he had been eager to see the new health care facility, and he brought his cousin, John Krause, who was visiting from Detroit, to the event. “The views are beautiful,” he said as he walked by the fourth-floor windows, “and the way they bring nature inside gives the whole interior a peaceful feeling. That’s important for good health and healing.”
On Monday, December 5, The Lennar Foundation Medical Center will open its doors to patients.