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WCJB-TV: Ocala Regional Trauma Center May Close

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

“It cost millions to build and now there’s a petition to close it. The Ocala Regional Trauma Center has been only open for two months, but other hospitals want them to close their doors,” Paige Beck said.

“The Trauma Center serves multiple counties and is the first one of its kind in its region, but TV20s Kyla Ryan reports why then would anyone want to close it?” Dave Synder said.

“Dave, that was really the question today at a public meeting at the Marion County Health Department. One commissioner even said in his comments, ‘Are you kidding me?’ But leaders of one hospital who want to close it says the costs just aren’t worth it,” Kyla Ryan (Reporter) said.

It’s become a battle over care.

“Did you see this push back coming, I mean?” Kyla Ryan (Reporter) said.

“Nobody saw this pushback coming. I don’t think anyone would. I mean when you step back and see a common sense approach, if you can provide better, greater health care to your community, who would think you would have a pushback?”

The trauma center at ocala regional opened just a few months ago, but some other hospitals want it shut down.

“That investment has been made in time, energy, and resources and so why would we withdraw that? We need to move forward. We don’t need to get stuck in a battle of winners and losers. State Representative Dennis Baxley says its already been built, and quick transport times have saved lives in the two months it’s been open. So does the lawsuit put patients first? Baxley says no.

“And this is simply a competitive struggle of someone not wanting you to take territory,” Dennis Baxley (State Representative) said.

Shands Hospital in Gainesville and Jacksonville plus Munroe Regional —-literally steps from the new Ocala trauma center— claim the hospital did not go through the necessary steps to open the new center. So we asked Shands why not file the lawsuit before the new center was opened? In a statement Shands says its because the approval process is flawed.

(In the past, statewide approval and allocation of additional trauma programs in florida was based on robust empirical studies of need to concentrate resources where they were most needed. but more recently, the florida department of health (doh) has either provisionally or finally approved six new low-volume usf/hca trauma centers without following legislative and statutory requirements.)

And that “two separate judicial decisions found that DOH did not apply the required need-based criteria.”

“We went from a 41 minute average transport time to a 15 minute average transport time that is a lot of lives and a lot of lives saved and so we are excited about having them there.”

But shands says the new costs just aren’t worth it to consumers.  And as for insight into why the lawsuit was filed? Well, Baxley thinks it’s about the bottom line.
“They should be able to continue unless someone has a very good reason that they should stop,” Dennis Baxley (State Representative) said.

Ocala Mayor Kent Guinn argued the new trauma center has created 40 jobs and the sheriff said it helps keep his deputies, who often have to accompany trauma patients to the hospital, on the streets in Marion County. The question will ultimately be settled in the courts.

Kyla Ryan TV20 News.

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