SARASOTA -- Officials at Sarasota Memorial Hospital are in the early stages of determining whether the community needs another trauma center in the region.
Blake Medical Center in Bradenton has the only trauma center in the state's 13th trauma service area made up by Manatee, Sarasota and DeSoto counties.
In February, the Florida Department Health released its annual allocation for trauma centers throughout the state, allotting two trauma centers in the 13th area.
This new allocation came as Bayfront Health St. Petersburg, Tampa General and St. Joseph's hospital were contesting approval of Blake Medical Center's trauma center.
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The controversy came to an end in June with an administrative judge ruling that the department of health's proposed rule was not an invalid exercise of its agency's delegated legislative authority. In July, all three hospitals filed voluntary dismissals of their complaints.
Now that the controversy has been settled, Sarasota Memorial hospital is considering whether it should fill the open slot as the area's newest trauma center, said David Verinder, Sarasota Memorial Hospital's chief
"We are in very beginning stages and really don't know what the outcome is going to be," Verinder said. "There is no need to rush the evaluation process."
Officials at the hospital are looking to put together a team of medical staff and community leaders to evaluate how the trauma center would work and the volume of trauma cases it could expect.
"We always want community input," Verinder said.
There already seems to be public support for a trauma center, according to the CEO.
"Honestly I get it everyday, I get people who come to us and ask us why we don't have a trauma center and if we are going to open a trauma center," Verinder said. "Usually that happens when their family member is hurt in an accident and is taken to another hospital."
And while nothing has been officially discussed with local government officials, many have indirectly made comments, he added.
Through what Verinder anticipates to be a months long process, the hospital hopes to determine whether Sarasota residents are being properly served.
This is not the first time Sarasota Memorial has considered opening a trauma center
"We have asked ourselves the question every three to five years," Verinder said.
The allocation of trauma centers is based on a March 24 amended trauma center assessment. The assessment determines how to allocate trauma centers based on population, median transport times, community support, number of severely injured patients discharged from acute care hospitals, number of level one trauma centers and the number of severely injured patients.
A Blake Medical Center spokesperson said the hospital did not have any comment on discussions of a trauma center at Sarasota Memorial.
Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.