Ocala Trauma Center Fights to Stay Open
OCALA- It’s been over a year since the Ocala trauma center opened its doors. But they are still fighting to stay open since a competitor wants to shut it down. Recent radio and TV commercials are trying to sway resident’s opinions. About three weeks ago a non-partisan senior advocacy group called "60 Plus Association" launched a quarter million dollar ad campaign.The commercials attack hospitals that are seeking to shut down several trauma centers across the sunshine state.
Legal challenges have been mounted since Ocala Regional's Level 2 Trauma Center opened in December 2012. UF Health Shands claimed the hospital did not go through the necessary steps to open the new center.
"On Christmas Eve they filed a motion, basically to shut down our trauma center. Since then we have been trying to gather support for our trauma center to provide care for our community," said Medical Director of Trauma Services at ORMC Dr. Darwin Ang.
Dr. Ang said he and his staff have treated about 2100 patients. Dr. David Guzick with UF Health Shands said they are taking legal action because the department of health has not granted them the approval to be heard.
"We are just saying we need to be heard to really present data on how we can improve the quality of care and reduce cost throughout the state of Florida," said Dr. Guzick who is the Senior Vice President for Health Affairs at UF Health Shands.
According to Dr. Guzick, Hospital Corporation of America, which owns Ocala trauma, increases the cost of patient care when creating more trauma centers.
"They are increasing the cost to all the citizens of Florida which we all pay as a hidden tax because we will pay for it in a form of increase of insurance premiums without improving the quality of care," said Dr. Guzick.
One resident thinks the battle comes down to business. Not quality care or cost.
"It all boils down to money is my thought on it," said Jim Mitchell.
UF Health Shands lost about 200 patients since Ocala trauma opened, but workers there say hundreds of lives have been saved because of the new center.
"Just in Marion County itself, time to treatment use to be 40 minutes and we've count that in half down to 20 minutes," said Dr. Ang.
If Ocala trauma center didn't exist, Marion County trauma patients would have to travel to Gainesville once again.
"I feel that patients are going to have to wait even longer and the chances of them dying and not getting proper treatment is greater," said resident Julio Manresa.
Last week the Department of Health held a session to discuss making changes to a rule on how Florida should approve new trauma centers. The rule may be revised as early as April first.
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