In late October, the Florida Department of Health released a proposed draft trauma allocation rule and announced it will be holding public workshops in Pensacola, Orlando and Miami. The HCA Trauma Network views the proposed rule and the workshops as a positive step forward in creating a 21st Century trauma system in the state of Florida.
The HCA Network is committed to providing local, quality trauma care to all Florida residents. All of our trauma centers were created to fill a need in communities that lacked access to quality trauma care. These trauma centers help protect each of these communities and are equipped with specially trained surgeons, staff and cutting edge technology.
In addition to filling a void, our verified and provisional trauma centers at five of our hospitals – Lawnwood Regional Medical Center, Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point, Blake Medical Center, Kendall Regional Medical Center, and Ocala Regional Medical Center—have improved Florida’s trauma system with a higher average survival rate and shorter average length of stay than all trauma centers throughout of Florida.
In the weeks, months, and years ahead, the HCA Trauma Network will continue protecting the lives of citizens in the communities our trauma centers serve. Additionally, we look forward to working with the Department of Health to put a trauma rule in place that expands and improves Florida’s trauma system to ensure that all Floridians are provided access to the quality trauma care they deserve.
Last week, Florida legislators made much-needed progress toward improving Florida’s trauma network and protecting our state’s life-saving trauma centers.
Florida House Bill PCB HIS 14-01, which passed out of the Health Innovation Subcommittee last week, seeks to protect Florida’s current trauma centers. The bill would allow trauma centers that have been operational for at least 12 months to remain open as long as they have submitted an application to the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma.
If enacted, this law would protect three of our centers, Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point in Pasco County, Blake Medical Center in Manatee County and Ocala Regional Medical Center in Marion County, from current self-serving lawsuits filed by competitors.
The chairman of the Health Innovation Subcommittee, Jason Brodeur, said the bill should cease current lawsuits filed by other hospitals and protect current trauma centers.
“Forcing these trauma centers to close and reapply under new rules would have a negative impact on the health and safety of the residents of these regions,” said Brodeur.
This House bill, with its Senate companion, SB 1276, would provide Florida a framework for a lasting, working trauma system that is based on factors that indicate community need. Senate Bill 1276, introduced by Senator Denise Grimsley in February, would create a trauma system with checks and balances by: requiring the Department of Health to conduct an annual review of the trauma system; making the trauma system more efficient by reducing the amount of Trauma Service areas; and attempts to reduce unnecessary hospital turf wars by mandating that new trauma center applications are selected based on a hospital’s ability to meet quality standards.
The proposed bills set forth by the Legislature is proof that our elected officials understand the need to both protect our community trauma centers, and create a statewide trauma system with built in checks in balances. Trauma is not about dollars and cents, it’s about saving lives, and luckily our legislative leaders understand just that – all Floridians deserve access to local quality trauma care – it’s a matter of life and death.
DOH Trauma Rule Workshop: New Trauma Allocation Rule Would Improve Access to Trauma Care for Underserved Floridians
Last week, the Florida Department of Health held a public workshop to gather stakeholder input about its proposed trauma allocation rule. The Department’s proposed trauma rule allocates trauma centers based on factors that indicate community need, such as distance to the nearest trauma center, community support, population density and patient transfers, among others.
The Department’s proposed rule was formed after the Department held a series of workshops throughout the state with the purpose of gathering public input about the rule and Florida’s trauma needs.
Throughout this rulemaking process, numerous public safety officials have taken the opportunity set forth by the Department call for increased access to trauma care throughout the state of Florida. For
example, Loren Mock, Chief of Clay County Fire Rescue, told Action News that the closure of the trauma center at Orange Park Medical Center did not only affect citizens within his jurisdiction in Clay County – it also impacts surrounding counties. Mock said communities in St. Johns County, the southern end of Duvall County and Baker County all brought patients to Orange Park for emergency trauma care.
The HCA Trauma Network is encouraged by the Department’s efforts to put patient and community needs at the core of the trauma allocation rule. In a statement released before the workshop in Tallahassee Osceola Regional Medical Center CEO, Bob Krieger said,
“At Osceola Regional Medical Center, we are encouraged by the Florida Department of Health’s recent steps toward creating a working trauma system for Florida.
“For over a year, the Department has worked to gather stakeholder input to improve our state’s trauma system. The proposed rule the Department has developed provides a pathway to a 21st Century trauma system that expands access and most importantly, protects patient lives.
“By allocating trauma centers based on patient need, and other core critical factors, this rule provides for a solution for lifesaving trauma care needed in Trauma Service Area 8 (TSA) and all of Central Florida.
Osceola Regional will continue to work with the Department of Health and Florida’s lawmakers to ensure access to trauma care for residents in the greater Osceola community.”
Our Network will continue to work with the Department and the trauma stakeholder community to implement a trauma allocation rule that provides access to quality trauma care for all Floridians.
A recent study conducted by the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) provides even more irrefutable evidence that Florida needs a trauma rule that increases and improves access to quality trauma care for all Floridians. In the ACEP study, “America’s Emergency Care Environment: A State-by-State Report Card,” the State of Florida received an overall grade of “C-“for emergency care and an F in “Access to Emergency Care.”
In compiling the reports, ACEP rated each state in five different categories: access to emergency care, quality and patient safety environment, medical liability, public health and injury prevention and disaster preparedness. Of all of these categories, Florida scored the worse in “public health and injury prevention” and “access to emergency care,” in which it scored a D- and F, respectively.
Now that the First District Court of Appeal has dismissed an attempt to shut down the HCA trauma network centers, the Florida Department of Health has the opportunity to improve Florida’s trauma network and its overall emergency care environment score. We look forward to working with the DOH and the State of Florida to improve access to quality trauma care throughout Florida.