The hospitals within Lake Nona Medical City are out to prove that collaborative, innovation hubs can be built from the ground up—literally.
The medical city sits on 650 acres in the Lake Nona development in Orlando, Florida, and includes University of Central Florida’s Lake Nona Hospital, which is jointly run by UCF and HCA Healthcare; Orlando’s Veterans Affairs Medical Center; a Nemours Children’s Hospital; GuideWell Innovation Center; University of Florida Health’s Research & Academic Center; a training center for Johnson & Johnson and more.
The 17-square-mile mixed-use development adjacent to Orlando International Airport is owned by Tavistock Development Company, a real estate arm of investment company Tavistock. Along with the healthcare organizations, the community includes employers Verizon, KPMG and the U.S. Tennis Association. It also is where most of the people who work at these companies live.
“When we started this project, there were a lot of cow pastures,” said Dr. Michael Schlosser, senior vice president of innovation at Nashville-based HCA Healthcare. “It’s been built from the ground up, not just the innovation hub, but the hospital itself.”
The community's development took off during the mid-2000s and early 2010s amid Florida’s population boom. The first impetus to create a medical component occurred in 2005 when the University of Central Florida needed a location for its medical school, said Gloria Caulfield, vice president of strategic alliances at Tavistock Development Company. After getting the medical school, the Tavistock team wanted to create a medical city.
“We had the land, there was a desire to do something exceptional here,” Caulfield said.
The medical school received 50 acres of land and $12.5 million from Tavistock to build the medical school. It received an additional $25 million from the state of Florida, which approved the project. After opening several facilities within its health sciences campus after 2010, the university selected HCA to build a $175 million hospital in 2016. It opened in March 2021.