BRADENTON — Blake Medical Center announced Tuesday it plans to bring the first trauma center to Manatee County.
The Bradenton hospital is in the process of establishing a $2.5 million Level II trauma center that will provide trauma care to residents in Manatee, Sarasota and DeSoto counties.
Currently, a majority of residents in the tri-county area are transported to St. Petersburg or Tampa for trauma care.
“In trauma, the name of the game is time,” said Dr. Brian Kimbrell, who will serve as trauma medical director at Blake. “Having a trauma center not only saves precious time, but it develops a greatly needed resource in our community.”
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Daniel Friedrich, chief executive officer of Blake Medical Center, said the hospital submitted a letter of intent to the Florida Department of Health in September notifying the agency of its plans to establish a trauma center. Blake plans to submit a completed application to the state in early 2011 and expects to be designated as a Level II trauma center by October 2011.
Blake’s application will go through a series of reviews by the Florida Department of Health that includes seeing that the trauma center meets a critical need, an in-depth review and on-site visits.
“This is an exciting day for our hospital and community,” Friedrich said. “Blake is committed to continually elevating the level of care for our community, and the Manatee-Sarasota-DeSoto area is in need of a trauma center to ensure that critically ill or injured patients have access to local trauma care.”
Blake will renovate its emergency room area to establish the trauma center, which will include two trauma bays and is expected to create 15-20 jobs.
As required by the Florida Department of Health, the Level II trauma center will be staffed with at least five trauma surgeons. A Level II trauma center also is required to have on-call surgeons who specialize in nine types of surgeries, including pediatric, plastic, obstetric and ophthalmic, and have specialists in nine areas, including cardiology, infectious disease, pediatrics and pulmonary medicine.
St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa and Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg are designated Level II trauma centers. Tampa General Hospital is a Level I trauma center, which requires additional on-call surgery capabilities, including cardiac, hand and microsurgery, and additional on-call specialists, including gastroenterology and psychiatry.
“Because our local area currently has no trauma center, not only do patients have to travel far to be treated, but relatives have a long distance to travel to visit them,” Kimbrell said.
Blake Medical Center hired Kimbrell from St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Oxnard, Calif., to oversee the trauma center and hired Michelle Bryskiewicz as vice president of trauma services.
“Countless studies indicate that trauma mortality decreases with proximity to a trauma center,” Bryskiewicz said.
In 2005, the University of South Florida published a report assessing Florida’s trauma system entitled “A Comprehensive Assessment of the Florida Trauma System.” The study, conducted from 2003-04, found Manatee County had the 12th highest mortality rate in the state.
However, trauma centers are typically costly investments that lose revenue due to indigent care and operational costs.
USF’s 2005 assessment reported that the 18 trauma centers researchers looked at had an aggregate loss of $92 million for 2003-04.
“Primary researchers from the University of South Florida identified that trauma centers do have a very large loss of revenue with the actual cost to run a trauma center. The cost is anywhere from about $4 million a year in order to keep the specialized physicians on staff and available for trauma cases,” said Susan McDevitt, director for the Office of Trauma at the Florida Department of Health.
Florida allows counties to levy a special assessment tax to fund emergency medical services, and there is a Trauma Services Trust Fund that helps support some state-sponsored trauma centers.
“There are some state funds out there, but nothing significant,” said Stephanie Petta, spokesperson for Blake Medical Center. “We anticipate patient revenue being sufficient to cover our expenses.”