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Orange Park loses trauma center

Injured Orange Park residents will have to make the trip to Shands, as a major service downgrade for the Orange Park Medical Center dictates that it close it's emergency room.

The Florida Department of Health saying the OPMC does not meet the standards of a Level 2 trauma center - pointing out deficiencies in their emergency department requirements, acute rehabilitative services, psycho-social support systems, and quality management.

In a statement, the DOH said: "Verified trauma centers across the state must meet the defined standards for trauma care. The Department of Health remains committed to maintaining those standards on behalf of injured patients."

The DOH went on to say acute care hospitals and EMS providers in Trauma Service Area Five have been notified of this disposition.

Patients needing emergency care will have to seek treatment at Shands Jacksonville.

In a statement from OPMC Trauma/Critical Care Surgeon Anthony Udekwu: "We are very disappointed and surprised that we received notification from the Department of Health denying our provisional status. As customary in the evaluation process, we have been working with the Department to ensure residents of Clay County have local access to trauma care. We intend to appeal this decision and will suspend trauma care operations until the appeal.

"The heavy traffic and population growth we have seen in Northeast Florida has resulted in increased transport times for critical trauma patients to get to the nearest trauma center in downtown Jacksonville. When Shands Jacksonville is not an option because it is too busy, the next closest trauma centers to Orange Park Medical Center are an 80 minute drive to Gainesville or a 120 minute drive to Daytona Beach. Both of these options are well outside of the maximum 60-minute window to give patients lifesaving treatment and the best chance to survive."

Officials also responded from Shands: "It is important to note that today's decision by the Department of Health to close Orange Park Medical Center's trauma center, based on the center's deficiencies, is distinct from the legal challenges that we and other hospitals in Florida have brought, in which several justices have agreed with our view that the state should not approve additional trauma centers until appropriate rules and criteria have been defined. The proliferation of trauma centers without an appropriate needs assessment jeopardizes the ability of any one trauma center to obtain the patient volumes needed in order to develop and remain proficient in the delivery of trauma care, and in the training of the next generation of trauma physicians and nurses.

"It is our view that a regionalized approach to trauma care is the safest and most efficient approach to the delivery of trauma services in Florida. As the region's only Level I trauma center, the goal of Shands Jacksonville has always been, and will continue to be, the welfare of our patients. Providing the best trauma care to the citizens of Northeast Florida is our ultimate objective, and it is something we have done with passion and pride for more than a quarter century."

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