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Orange Park Medical Center will not be designated as a Level II trauma center

10:45 PM, Feb 14, 2013   |    comments
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ORANGE PARK, Fla. -- Orange Park Medical Center will not be designated as a Level II trauma center, the Florida Department of Health confirmed on Thursday.

OPMC was notified in November 2011 that it had passed the provisional review phase and Feb. 1, 2013 was the deadline for the state to give its approval or denial.

The hospital was notified it did not meet the standards for verification and has been ordered to stop operating as a provisional trauma center, according to a DOH release.

Deficiencies noted by the DOH as reasons for the denial of the trauma center "included emergency department requirements, acute rehabilitative services, psychosocial support systems and quality management."

Shands Jacksonville in downtown Jacksonville still has its designation as a Level I trauma center to serve patients in Clay County. There are also trauma centers in Gainesville and Daytona Beach.

Supporters of the OPMC's trauma center are scheduled to speak Friday at a DOH workshop at the Duval County Health Department's Smith Auditorium.

"When minutes mean the difference between life and death, having our highly-trained trauma team at Orange Park Medical Center ready to treat the most severely injured patients 24 hours a day is critical," Dr. Charles (Bruce) Walsh, M.D., Trauma Medical Director at OPMC in said a release.

OPMC's trauma center was the first new trauma center to open in Northeast Florida in 30 years.

Anthony Udekwu, trauma/critical care surgeon of OPMC, said in a statement that the hospital intends to appeal the decision and will suspend trauma care until then.

"While we disagree with this decision, our commitment remains with the community and the patients we serve," Udekwu said in the release. "Since we received our provisional status over a year ago, we have cared for more than 1,000 trauma patients, saving countless lives that may not have had the same outcome if we were without this level of care. In fact, our trauma center's survival rate is over 95%, which is better than the state of Florida's average."

Shands Jacksonville issued a statement on the closure, saying that all trauma patients in the region will now be coming to its facility and that the state should define more closely criteria for a trauma center.

"It is important to note that today's decision by the Department of Health to close Orange Park Medical Center's trauma center, based on the center's deficiencies, is distinct from the legal challenges that we and other hospitals in Florida have brought, in which several justices have agreed with our view that the state should not approve additional trauma centers until appropriate rules and criteria have been defined.

"The proliferation of trauma centers without an appropriate needs assessment jeopardizes the ability of any one trauma center to obtain the patient volumes needed in order to develop and remain proficient in the delivery of trauma care, and in the training of the next generation of trauma physicians and nurses."

First Coast News

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