New state trauma rules could effect local service

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BRADENTON, Fla. - Blake Medical Center continues to be at the center of controversy over whether they should be allowed to continue operating their trauma center in Manatee County. This week, the Florida Department of Health discussed proposed rules that would regulate the number of trauma centers in the state.

This proposal comes after two years of controversy and after new trauma centers were opened in Manatee County and three other Florida counties.

State courts found that FDH used improper rules in approving the new trauma centers.

Pending litigation could force closure of Blake Medical Center, so what does this mean to local residents?

"It’s important to have a facility available to you, in your own community, that can offer you services, multi-faceted services such as a trauma center," says Sarasota resident Betsy Gertz, a registered nurse.

She says that if Sarasota and Manatee county residents don’t have timely access to a trauma center, it would be a detriment to the community. “There is a golden hour with traumatic events. You have one hour to get the patient to the facility to be treated with the hopes of survivability. Without that, the patient could potentially die."

Timing and location are critical, says Gerts, a retired trauma nurse and paramedic in the field.

And Bayflite, the area’s trauma helicopter service, is great she says, but the problem is the weather. "If the weather is inappropriate, then the helicopter cannot fly and you have to go by ground. If you have to go by ground and go to the closest appropriate facility, that may be too far away for the patient’s survivability."

Sarasota and Manatee county residents shouldn’t have to travel to St. Petersburg or Tampa for trauma care, says Gerts, and they shouldn’t have to rely on the emergency rooms. "If they don't have that capability to do that, then potentially it would keep people from moving here, because they don't have the appropriate facilities to take care of its own community."

More than 2,300 trauma patients have been treated at Blake Medical Center since November of 2012.