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SMH, Bayfront Unite to Target Dangerous Distracted Drivers, Enhance Network of Local Trauma Care

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Speakers at podiumSARASOTA (May 5, 2010) – Sarasota Memorial Hospital and its primary trauma partner Bayfront Medical Center took steps today to caution the public about a growing cause of trauma-related injuries across the nation – Distracted Driving – and announce new collaborative practices and synchronized protocols designed to enhance trauma care in Sarasota County and the surrounding region.

In a joint news briefing, trauma and emergency care specialists of both organizations talked about how trauma accidents are preventable, noting the dangers caused by people texting while driving, and urged the community to do their part to reduce driving distractions.

“NO call or text is worth losing a life,” said William Colgate, MD, medical director of Sarasota Memorial Emergency Care Center. “From the car to walking on the street, we ask that everyone use common sense and put safety first.”

The survival of trauma victims relies on the strength of the trauma network each community has in place, and Sarasota Memorial and Bayfront, located in St. Petersburg, have recently taken steps to recognize and reinforce a partnership that has served the community for more than 20 years. By sharing additional resources and protocols, Sarasota Memorial and Bayfront are developing an integrated network to coordinate services, enhance the community’s emergency and trauma care capabilities and ensure that local trauma patients receive the care they need, when they need it.

Gwen SigningThe focus of this year’s National Trauma Awareness Month is to cut down on cell phone use in the car and focus on safe driving, and in a symbolic gesture, Sarasota Memorial CEO Gwen MacKenzie and Bayfront leaders were the first to sign a banner Wednesday pledging not to text and drive. Throughout May, MacKenzie will be asking Sarasota Memorial’s 4,000 staff members to do the same. The hospitals also are reaching out to the community, encouraging residents through public service radio announcements to do their part to help prevent dangerous accidents by not texting while driving.

Florida’s second largest public hospital, Sarasota Memorial has about 80,000 emergency visits a year. Approximately one in five involve patients with trauma-related injuries. While most of those injuries are treated by Sarasota Memorial’s team of on-call specialists and surgeons, as many as 300 critically injured trauma patients – those in need of immediate life-saving surgery or a burn center – are airlifted to the nearest trauma facility equipped to help them.

For more than 20 years, Bayfront has served as the Sarasota-Manatee region’s primary trauma center. The only Level II Adult and Pediatric Trauma Center in Pinellas County, it is one of the busiest in the state of Florida, treating approximately 2,600 trauma patients annually. The comprehensive trauma team includes board-certified trauma surgeons and specially trained ER nurses and medics. Surgeon specialists are on call around the clock for patients who require their expertise. Bayfront’s air medical transport program, Bayflite serves approximately 3 million residents in 15 counties along West Central Florida. Bayflite is the largest hospital-based trauma flight program in the Southeast United States.

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 emergency, inpatient, outpatient, home health and extended care. Its 806-bed hospital is Florida’s second largest acute care public hospital and its Emergency Care Center one of the busiest on Florida’s Gulf Coast, with about 80,000 visits annually. It is the only hospital in the region ranked among U.S.News & World Report’s “America’s Best Hospitals” and awarded Magnet designation–the nation’s highest honor for nursing excellence. It has been recognized among America’s top hospitals for quality and safety by three years in a row (2008, 2009 and 2010). For information, visit:

About Bayfront Medical Center
For more than 100 years, Bayfront Medical Center – a 502-bed, not-for-profit, teaching hospital in St. Petersburg – has responded to the healthcare needs of West Coast residents. Bayfront is also home to Bayflite – the largest hospital-based flight program in the Southeastern United States that brings life-saving trauma care to thousands in a 15-county region. Bayfront provides comprehensive services in: trauma and emergency care; orthopaedics; obstetrics and gynecology; cardiology; neurosciences; rehabilitation and cancer care. For information, visit:

Date Published: May 5, 2010

Media Contact: Kim Savage
Phone: (941) 917-6271

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