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Orange Park Medical Center Opens Level II Trauma Center

Orange Park Medical Center Opens Level II Trauma Center

Story by Teresa Stepzinski, Jacksonville Business Journal, May 10, 2016  Click Here for Full Story

Level II Trauma Center Open at Orange Park Medical Center - UF Health Jacksonville has fought second trauma center for years.  

ORANGE PARK | Likely to the chagrin of opponents, Orange Park Medical Center opened its long-sought trauma center after receiving provisional status from the Florida Department of Health.  The 297-bed hospital began receiving patients May 1 as a Level II trauma center.  For now, it’s the second trauma center serving the Northeast Florida region of Clay, Duval, Nassau, Baker and St. Johns counties.  UF Health Jacksonville has a Level I trauma center serving the region.

Chad Patrick, chief executive officer of Orange Park Medical Center, said the hospital will undergo up to an 18-month validation process by the Department of Health determining whether the trauma center becomes permanent.  “It’s about saving lives. It’s about improving patient care and quality,” Patrick said of the hospital’s mission including the trauma center.  During its first week, the Orange Park trauma center received 17 patients including several from St. Johns County, Patrick said.  Many of the trauma center’s first patients had been injured in motorcycle or car crashes, and one or two had gunshot wounds. They previously would have gone to UF Health Jacksonville, said Clay County Fire Chief Lorin Mock, who’s also the county emergency manager.  

Clay County legislators say the Orange Park trauma center opening is a victory for patients and their families, emergency medical responders, the community as a whole and the economy of the county, which at about 204,000 residents is still growing.  “Our community is long overdue for a trauma center … Clay County deserves its own trauma center, period.,” state Sen. Rob Bradley said Tuesday. He said residents want choices. They also want to know if they or a loved one is severely injured or ill, they can make it to a trauma center within the “golden hour” considered crucial to saving a trauma patient’s life, Bradley said.

“Those 20, 30, 40 minutes between arriving in Orange Park or Gainesville and Jacksonville can be literally the difference between life and death,” Bradley said of typical travel times for an ambulance to drive from Clay to the previously closest trauma centers.  State Rep. Travis Cummings said Orange Park’s trauma center elevates and continues to enhance the hospital’s overall quality and health care services.  “I anticipate any concerns being raised by folks in Duval, Alachua counties or elsewhere will become less and less persuasive as time goes on,” Bradley said of the opposition raised in the past by UF Health Jacksonville and UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville, which each have trauma centers serving Clay County.  Cummings said both those trauma centers will continue to be needed in the region.

UF Health Jacksonville has been at the forefront of opposition to Orange Park Medical Center opening a trauma center.  “We are aware of the provisional trauma status recently awarded to several facilities in Florida, including Orange Park, and are now considering our options,” said Dan Leveton, spokesman for UF Health Jacksonville who declined further comment Tuesday.  The trauma center battle exemplifies the highly competitive Northeast Florida heath care
market.  Clay County alone boasting three major medical facilities: Orange Park Medical Center, St. Vincent’s Medical Center Clay County in Middleburg and Baptist Clay Medical Campus on Fleming Island.

Florida has 32 trauma centers, either permanent or provisional such as Orange Park Medical Center, according to the Department of Health. Either Level I or Level II, all have trauma surgeons and related medical personnel available 24/7 all year long. A Level I center – the highest level – is mandated by state law to also be a pediatric trauma center.  Orange Park isn’t a pediatric trauma center.  

Last month, the Department of Health withdrew a proposed trauma center regulation that would have added another trauma center to the Northeast Florida five-county area. That action came days before an administrative law judge was scheduled to hear a challenge from UF Health Jacksonville and the Miami-Dade Public Health Trust representing Jackson Memorial Hospital to the proposed regulation.  At that time, an attorney for UF Health Jacksonville said the withdrawal left intact the existing rule that allows for only one trauma center in the Jacksonville area – the one that the hospital currently operates.  However, the department disagreed Tuesday.  “There will be no impact to Orange Park Medical Center’s provisional status as a trauma center,” Mara Gambineri, department communications director, said in an email to the Times-Union.

READ MORE ABOUT ORANGE PARK MEDICAL CENTER HERE


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