Former hospital CEO honored at UF Health North ceremony

UF Health Jacksonville CEO Russ Armistead, left, presents former hospital CEO Marcus E. Drewa with a token of appreciation for the leadership he's provided over the years to UF Health and the rest of the Northeast Florida medical community.
The atrium at UF Health North has been named after Drewa, who recently made a significant donation to the medical office complex.
Drewa speaks with Daniel R. Wilson, MD, PhD, during the Feb. 25 atrium naming ceremony. Wilson is dean of the University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville.
From left, Armistead, Armistead's wife Susan, Drewa and Drewa family friend B.J. Langley gather for a photo in front of the newly installed lettering in the UF Health North atrium.

UF Health Jacksonville honored one of Northeast Florida’s longtime leaders in the medical community Feb. 25, naming the atrium of the medical office complex at UF Health North after former hospital CEO Marcus E. Drewa.

Drewa led what was then known as Brewster Methodist Hospital for three decades, beginning in 1966, and took the organization from the brink of bankruptcy to one of the region’s most respected medical facilities. His vision, drive and passion formed the firm foundation of Methodist Medical Center, what became known as “The Miracle on Eighth Street,” and eventually became part of one of the premier academic health systems in the Southeast, UF Health.

“It’s not an exaggeration to say that without Marcus Drewa, UF Health might not be here right now,” said UF Health Jacksonville CEO Russ Armistead. “His dedication to keeping Methodist Medical Center running, and then turning it into a success story, eventually led to its merger with University Medical Center and the creation of this organization. We are proud to put his name on our latest success story at UF Health North.”

For more than 30 years, the hospital grew and prospered under Drewa’s leadership.

“Any time we had the chance to stand out from the rest of the hospitals, and provide something no one else was providing, we did,” he said.

In 1967, Methodist was the first hospital in the state to offer private rooms and baths. Studies have shown quieter, more restful environments help improve the healing process and overall experience for patients and their loved ones.

The state’s first comprehensive hospice program was started at Methodist to provide both home-care services and a dedicated inpatient unit, which was separate from the general hospital to create a comforting environment for terminally ill patients and their families.

The Jacksonville Transplant Center at Methodist was the first solid organ transplant facility for kidney transplantations and a clinic for all types of organ transplants in Northeast Florida.

Another first, St. Johns Horizon House, was established to provide a caring, supportive environment for people with HIV/AIDS at a time when understanding and compassion were overshadowed by fear of the unknown.

In 1999, Methodist Medical Center merged with University Medical Center and Shands HealthCare to form Shands Jacksonville. The strength of that union has grown over the years and lives on today as UF Health Jacksonville.

In retirement, Drewa remains a strong and active supporter of UF Health. A significant personal contribution established a chaplaincy program and he championed the creation of an endowed professorship in surgery.

To show his continued support for UF Health, Drewa has made a significant donation to UF Health North in 2016, another gesture that will build on his legacy that began 50 years ago.