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Pittsburgh native and CEO of Florida hospital dies after being ejected from jet ski

JACKSONVILLE, Fl. — The Coast Guard says Dr. Leon L. Haley Jr. lost control of a jet-ski and crashed into a jetty.

Dr. Haley was found in the water, wearing a life jacket, and was transported to the hospital, according to our sister station Action News Jacksonville.

UF Health has announced the passing of Dr. Leon L. Haley Jr., the UF Health Jacksonville CEO.

Dr. Haley was the first Black CEO of UF Health.

He played a pivotal role in getting the COVID-19 vaccine rolled out in Jacksonville, especially in the Black community.

Growing up in Pittsburgh, Leon L. Haley Jr. (MD ’90) dreamed of becoming the first African American sportscaster on network television. “But that changed when I mixed basketball with a trampoline,” he says.

As a student at Pitt med, he completed a summer program working afternoon shifts at the emergency department at St. Margaret’s Hospital.

The variety of injury and trauma cases that came through the door inspired him to pursue emergency medicine. He completed his residency at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Mich., followed by a master’s in health services administration from the University of Michigan.

From there, Haley moved to Atlanta, where he rose through the ranks to professor of emergency medicine at Emory, as well as the university’s executive associate dean for clinical affairs for Grady Memorial Hospital.

During his tenure there, he implemented a rapid medical evaluation process that shortened emergency medicine patient waiting times by 45 minutes and reduced the length of stay for the patients with the least pressing cases by three hours. The process also drastically decreased the number of patients who left without receiving care—by 50 percent.

UF Health gave the following statement:

“It is with great sadness that we confirm the death of UF Health Jacksonville CEO Leon L. Haley Jr. Dr. Haley was a strong, inspirational leader and beloved son, father, friend and colleague. We ask that you keep his family in your prayers tonight and in the coming days. We do not have specific details of his passing at this time. We ask that you respect the privacy of Dr. Haley’s family, friends and colleagues at UF Health.”