Passing of a esteemed friend and former colleague

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July 27, 2021

Passing of an esteemed friend and former colleague

I am deeply saddened to share the news that our friend and former colleague Leon Haley Jr., MD, MHSA, CPE, FACEP, passed away in a tragic accident on Saturday, July 24, at the age of 56. He leaves behind a loving family including his daughter, Nichelle, and his two sons, Wesley and Grant.

Haley had been serving as dean of the University of Florida (UF) College of Medicine in Jacksonville and chief executive officer of the UF Health Jacksonville system of hospitals and practices. Prior to joining UF in January 2017, Haley served as Emory’s medical director of Grady ECC for more than a decade and as executive associate dean of clinical affairs at Grady for four years.

Those of us who had the honor to work with Haley will remember him as a determined, inspirational leader, a powerful advocate for equality in health care, and a man of great personal and professional integrity. It comes as no surprise to hear that he was profoundly admired among UF Health’s thousands of employees for his outstanding character, his inclusivity, and his approachable demeanor.

His interests and publications focused on health administration, operations and strategic management, and diversity as it relates to health care and emergency medicine. Indeed, he had a true calling for emergency medicine. Even as CEO, he was known to spend as much time as possible in the emergency department, getting to know staff and helping to educate residents.

Over the past 17 months, Haley emerged as a leading authority in Jacksonville’s COVID-19 response. He collaborated with Mayor Lenny Curry and other hospital CEOs on the city’s pandemic response and encouraging the public to get the vaccine. He played a pivotal role in getting the COVID-19 vaccine rolled out in Jacksonville, especially in the African American community. In December 2020, when UF Health Jacksonville was the first local hospital to receive shipments of the vaccine, Haley led by example and was first in line to get the shot. Throughout the pandemic he has been at the forefront of the COVID-19 fight, providing regular updates, insights, and a calming voice to the people of Jacksonville.

A Pittsburgh native, Haley held degrees from Brown University and the Universities of Pittsburgh and Michigan. He was board certified in emergency medicine and a fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians. He was also a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives, the American College of Physician Executives, and the IOM Committee on Health and Insurance Status.

Haley’s emergency medicine friends and colleagues gathered on Sunday to remember and celebrate his life. Some drove hours to participate, others visited between shifts, and still others joined by Zoom to share remarks. As any further opportunities to honor Haley are developed, we will let you know.

Haley’s passing is truly a tragic loss for his loved ones, for all of us who deeply admired him, and for the people of Jacksonville and beyond.

Please direct questions and comments to

Jonathan S. Lewin, MD, FACR
Executive Vice President for Health Affairs, Emory University
Executive Director, Woodruff Health Sciences Center
CEO and Chairman of the Board, Emory Healthcare

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