ORANGE PARK, Fla.-- Florida's Department of Health is reviewing qualification standards for hospital trauma centers.
There are 22 Florida hospitals certified as trauma centers, but new rules could nearly double that total.
When a person is critically injured, there's only one place in the Jacksonville region an ambulance or helicopter can take them for trauma treatment, UF Health Shands in Jacksonville.
That's been the situation for a year now since Orange Park Medical Center lost its certification as a trauma hospital when the state altered standards for trauma hospital qualifications. Loren Mock, chief of Clay County Fire Rescue, told Action News this affects trauma patients not just in his county.
"It certainly impacted St. Johns County, the southern end of Duval County and I'm sure Baker County was bringing folks in too; it allowed another option," said Mock.
Orange Park Medical Center would again become the only trauma center between Jacksonville and Gainesville if the health department passes new measures its proposing for scoring hospitals based on population and transport times. Those are times that Chief Mock insists should get a patient to the ER within an hour by ambulance because airlifts are not always possible.
Chad Patrick, president and CEO of Orange Park Medical Center, told Action News, "We look forward to continuing to work with the Department of Health during this rule-making process, and eagerly anticipate the completion of a final rule that improves access to life-saving trauma care, and ultimately save more lives.”