Jacksonville’s Memorial Hospital this week received state approval to operate its trauma center that’s a specialized facility treating the most gravely injured patients.
The designation closes the book on legal battle over how many trauma centers can operate in Northeast Florida.
UF Health Jacksonville hospital challenged Memorial under a state trauma center cap.
The nonprofit University of Florida Health also argued for-profit Memorial’s trauma center would reduce the level of care at both facilities because it would spread qualified doctors thinner.
That’s as Memorial has been operating for more than a year on a provisional basis. Its CEO Bradley Talbert said more trauma centers means wider access to life-saving care, and a judge agreed.
“Since May of 2017 we’ve treated over 2100 trauma patients and continue to treat many, many each and every day. We’ve invested millions of dollars in facility upgrades and staff training. We’ve hired 10 trauma surgeons and we couldn’t be happier with the outcomes,” he said.
A new state law this year shrank the number of state trauma regions to 18 from 19 and allowed a maximum of five to open in each. At the same time, some were grandfathered in, but not Memorial’s because it was still tied up in litigation.
Talbert said the provisional approval and final approval are essentially the same, but now Memorial’s trauma center is officially recognized.
“What the final approval recognizes is that we were evaluated through a very rigorous survey and obviously deemed us fit and worthy to provide care as a certified level II trauma center,” he said.
Memorial’s trauma center is a Level II, which means it can handle most types of traumatic injuries and patient cases. While a Level I is more comprehensive.
UF Health Jacksonville hospital is a Level 1 trauma center.
The new law also creates a new statewide trauma center advisory council in charge of evaluating issues within the system and possible reforms.