Memorial Hospital has received final approval from the Florida Department of Health affirming the hospital has earned its spot as a certified Level II Trauma Center. The news comes after the Florida Department of Health adopted recommendations by an administrative law judge who ruled Memorial Hospital's trauma center application met the applicable standards.
"We are delighted that the state has recognized the hard work, specialized training and life-saving care that we've been able to provide to our patients who have come to us when they need us most," said Dr. Michael Samotowka, Trauma Medical Director at Memorial Hospital. "As caregivers, we know every minute matters in the golden hour following a trauma and this ruling allows us to continue to provide life-saving care to people in our community."
Following a state survey in February, the Department of Health gave what is known as "provisional" approval for Memorial to open a trauma center. Since that time Memorial has treated nearly 2,000 trauma patients. One of those patients was Anthony "Tony" SantaCasa, a good Samaritan who was hit by a car while stopping to help someone on the side of the road in late June. SantaCasa was rushed to the trauma center at Memorial Hospital where he spent nearly a month in the critical care unit. Tony's mother, Linda SantaCasa, says the proximity of this trauma center to the accident and having trauma surgeons available 24/7, was vital to Tony's successful outcome.
"I can't imagine if he had gone to a different hospital because I think the outcome would be a lot different," said Linda. "The community needs to know how good this trauma team is and that they are such an asset to the community. They saved my son's life and he wouldn't be here today without it."
As a Level II trauma center, Memorial Hospital provides 24-hour immediate access to a dedicated operating room for trauma patients and specially-trained surgeons, specialists and staff to treat critically-injured patients. Treating trauma patients effectively means having the right level of expertise with a team specifically-trained to handle major medical emergencies. It also means having the support of elected officials and EMS partners.
"It is well documented that trauma patients have a 25% higher rate of survival if they are treated at a specialized trauma center rather than a non-trauma ER and we are so grateful for the support of our local leaders who realize the importance of trauma care," said Bradley S. Talbert, President & CEO of Memorial Hospital. "Their endorsement in addition to that of the local fire and rescue teams, has helped make this a reality for our community."
Earlier this year Governor Rick Scott signed a bill changing a longstanding state law capping the number of trauma centers allowed in the state. The bill changes the number of trauma service areas from 19 to 18 and allows up to five centers in each area. Lawmakers passed a measure this year aimed at resolving most of the disputes, but the Memorial case continued until this past week when the state issued a Certificate of Approval to Memorial Hospital granting approval as a Level II Trauma Center.
The news comes just as the hospital is celebrating the grand reopening of its newly renovated and expanded ER and newly constructed rooftop helipad, which was designed to provide faster access to care, especially for trauma patients. Memorial Hospital began treating patients in the newly renovated ER space today.