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Health Care Learning Lab: The Villages

Will Vragoic
Tampa Bay Times

The gigantic retirement community known as The Villages -- with almost 100,000 residents who like getting around in golf carts -- has teamed up with the University of South Florida to create medical homes with an old-time friendly style of primary care, theTampa Bay Times reports

Dr. Elliot Sussman has been named chairman of The Villages Health System, as well as a USF  professor. USF Health CEO and president Dr. Stephen Klasko, who is leaving USF, was the one who dreamed up the project and made it real.

For the villagers, it means one-stop shopping for health care in the mold of Marcus Welby, a beloved TV character from the 1960s. For USF, it means a priceless training program and database that researchers can follow over time, allowing for discoveries in the same manner as the Framingham Heart Study of decades ago.

USF Physicians Group put $4 million into the project, and the founder of The Villages, Gary Morse, has contributed a "considerable" amount, which USF officials declined to specify. United Healthcare is serving as the health-insurance partner for the project.

Carol Gentry, founder and special correspondent of Health News Florida, has four decades of experience covering health finance and policy, with an emphasis on consumer education and protection.After serving two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Colombia, Gentry worked for a number of newspapers including The Wall Street Journal, St. Petersburg Times (now Tampa Bay Times), the Tampa Tribune and Orlando Sentinel. She was a Kaiser Foundation Media Fellow in 1994-95 and earned an Master's in Public Administration at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government in 1996. She directed a journalism fellowship program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for four years.Gentry created Health News Florida, an independent non-profit health journalism publication, in 2006, and served as editor until September, 2014, when she became a special correspondent. She and Health News Florida joined WUSF in 2012.