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Hospital Board Approves SMH Trauma Center Bid

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Sarasota Memorial Health Care System
SARASOTA (Feb. 17, 2015)  – The Sarasota County Public Hospital Board voted today to support Sarasota Memorial Health Care System’s bid to become a Level II Trauma Center.

The unanimous decision by the Hospital Board commits the finances, resources and personnel necessary to support the new trauma program. Expanding Sarasota Memorial’s scope of services to treat trauma patients is in keeping with the public health system’s safety-net mission, and with just one trauma center slot remaining in the tri-county region, the Board agreed that it would be beneficial for the community to be served by a not-for-profit trauma provider.    

“It’s a weighty obligation…but we are passionately committed to doing this,” said Marguerite G. Malone, EdD, chairman of the Sarasota County Public Hospital Board. “We are so pleased to represent Sarasota County and bring an advanced level of trauma care to the people of our community.”

Pivotal to Sarasota Memorial's decision is a recent ruling by the state Department of Health, which allocated a second trauma center to Florida’s Trauma Service Area 13 (Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto counties). Currently, most people injured in this region are transported to Blake Medical Center in Bradenton, or to a Level I trauma center in another region if a higher level of care is needed.

Sarasota Memorial CEO David Verinder asked the Board to support its application to the state after months of careful consideration and in-depth consultation with its medical staff and program leaders from other trauma centers across the state.

“We are not making this decision lightly,” he said. “While we already have many of the elements required of a trauma center and we’ve cared for trauma patients over the years, this still is a very large step for our physicians and staff. A trauma program requires a significant commitment on the part of staff, support of physicians, a large financial investment and many resources.”

Sarasota Memorial is working closely with Tampa General Hospital, using its physician, nursing and administrative expertise to develop policies, education and training related to its trauma program. TGH has the only Level I Trauma Center in the region and is the only trauma provider in Florida verified by the American College of Surgeons, the highest level of recognition a trauma center can receive.  

Pursuing trauma designation is a natural step for Sarasota Memorial, which has one of the largest Emergency Departments on Florida’s Gulf Coast, with more than 100,000 visits a year in its two Emergency Care Centers and another 80,000 visits a year in its network of urgent care centers. Sarasota Memorial also is the only not-for-profit provider in the region and the only hospital in the county that provides hospital care for maternity and pediatric patients, and a neonatal intensive care unit for critically ill newborns and premature babies.

Start-up costs include $3.6 million the Board approved today to upgrade an operating room and two existing trauma resuscitation rooms in the ER, as well as purchase additional equipment, furniture and supplies to support a Level II trauma program. Sarasota Memorial also hired three fellowship-trained trauma surgeons and is finalizing agreements with local subspecialists and remaining members of its trauma team in the coming weeks. 

The application is due April 1. If the state grants provisional approval, which could be as early as May, Sarasota Memorial estimates it will treat 500-1,000 trauma patients a year. Operating the center will cost on average $10 million annually for the first five years, with an average loss of $3.4 million annually, according to projections.

About Sarasota Memorial Health Care System: Sarasota Memorial Health Care System is a regional referral center offering Southwest Florida’s greatest breadth and depth of inpatient, outpatient and extended care services, with more than 800 physicians, 4,000 employees and 800,000 patient visits a year. Sarasota Memorial’s 819-bed acute care hospital has been recognized repeatedly as one of the nation’s best, with superior patient outcomes and a complete continuum of outpatient services– from urgent care centers and physician groups, to laboratory and imaging centers, home health, rehabilitation and long-term care.

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