Florida Trauma Center Expansion Sparks Debate

By: Andy Alcock
By: Andy Alcock
The proposed growth of trauma centers in Florida is causing controversy.

MGN Online

They can mean the difference between life and death.

Florida currently has 22 licensed trauma centers scattered throughout the state.

Tallahassee Memorial Health Center opened its trauma center about a decade ago.

The idea is to serve badly injured patients who need immediate and intense care.

"What we found is they're very resource intensive and there are certain sub specialties and physicians that are already in short supply," said TMH Spokesman Warren Jones.

Right now state lawmakers are trying to resolve a nasty fight between some health care providers and Florida's Department of Health over rules for adding trauma centers.

State Representative Jason Brodeur chaired a recent hearing on the topic.

He points out Florida will soon grow from 19 to 30 million residents and on any give day, has roughly 1.7 million visitors.

"The first principle is to make sure we're protecting our residents and our visitors, first in delivering adequate care and then how do we get there after that," Brodeur said.

TMH's level 2 trauma center served 1200 patients in 2013 from a 70 mile radius.

Thirty of those people, or 2.5 percent were transported to Shands' level one center in Gainesville.

Twenty-one of them were burn victims.

TMH doesn't have a burn unit.

Health care providers says it's critical for badly injured patients to make it to a trauma center within an hour.

We're told the helicopter flight from TMH to Shands ranges from 50 to 60 minutes including loading and unloading.

Tallahassee and Leon County taxpayers subsidize TMH's trauma center at a rate of roughly $275,000 a year.

But we're told administrative costs for the center alone run $1.5 million a year.

A meeting is scheduled for Thursday in Tallahassee to try to resolve the trauma center rules dispute.

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