ORANGE PARK, Fla. -- After Thursday's announcement that the Orange Park Medical Center can no longer operate as a Level II trauma center, Clay County Fire Chief Lorin Mock said it could mean the difference between life and death for patients in need of trauma care.
The hospital found out Thursday that its application for a Level II trauma center was denied. It had been working under a provisional license since late 2011 while the application was being reviewed.
James Sadler said he is alive today because of OPMC's trauma center. He was in a car crash last April on San Jose Boulevard in Mandarin. He was 17. The crash broke his neck, shattered his pelvis, and left a hole in his lung and bladder. Paramedics raced again the clock to get him into surgery at the closest trauma at OPMC.
"Honestly, I don't think I would be sitting here right now if I had to go to Shands Jacksonville. There is no way I would have made it," said Sadler. "I think I would have internally bled out and died that extra 20 minutes."
Mock said he was stunned and disappointed to learn OPMC had lost its trauma center status.
RELATED: Shands Jacksonville's statement on OPMC's loss of trauma center status
"Operationally, that means we have to either ground transport a victim who is involved in an accident, shooting, stabbing or some type of trauma-related emergency all the way from northern or central Clay County all the way to central Jacksonville or we have to call in and utilize air ambulance transport," said Chief Mock.
If the weather is bad and the helicopter can't fly, Chief Mock said it could be detrimental for the patient.
"That means we will probably exceed that 60-minute time frame to get from dispatch to arrival at the scene, package and preliminary treatment of the patient, and then transport to the hospital. If it exceeds those 60 minutes, then rates of survival begin to decrease," said Chief Mock.
As for Sadler, he hopes OPMC will win its appeal and be allowed to once again be a trauma center.
"People could be losing lives. My dad could have lost his son if Orange Park Trauma Center hadn't been there," said Sadler.
The Department of Health denied the trauma center application in part because it said there were deficiencies in emergency department requirements, acute rehabilitative services, and quality management.
Mock plans to attend a previously scheduled meeting in Jacksonville Friday to discuss the trauma system in Florida.
After the news broke, OPMC's trauma surgeon released a statement saying in part, they are very disappointed and surprised. He said the trauma center's survival rate is over 95%, which is better than the state of Florida's average.
First Coast News