Determined to retain its recently approved trauma center, Kendall Regional Medical Center is rallying public and professional support in the face of a legal challenge from Jackson Health System, which operates the Ryder Trauma Center.
In a competitive climate to maintain revenue streams, Jackson Health filed two petitions with the State of Florida in early January to revoke the KRMC operations license, declaring it was illegally granted.
The hospital attorneys have asked for hearings after an administrative law judge was reported to find Florida Department of Health rules invalid for certifications in November 2011, the same month KRMC opened its new trauma center.
Opened Nov. 19, 2011, the West Kendall facility is credited with assisting “more than 2,550 critically injured patients” by a full page advertisement published in The Miami Herald on Jan. 25 after a Jan. 18 Herald story headlined the legal action, based on a News Service of Florida report of Jan. 15.
Both reports noted how hospitals strive to maintain trauma centers as revenue sources, particularly in highly urbanized areas where fire rescue departments operate in crises without regard to patient insurance costs and coverage.
“In some areas where there is greater demand, like Miami, some hospitals are now actively trying to prevent more trauma centers,” observed Tony Fransetta, president of Florida Alliance for Retired Americans, a non-profit representing 200,000 retirees.
He added, “Time plays a critical factor during traumatic events. In Florida, the state’s goal is to have a hospital trauma unit with trained staff, the best equipment and proven techniques within each of its socalled 19 designated Trauma Service Areas.”
Potential revisions in the state trauma system were under study Feb. 2-5 in Tallahassee by members of the American College of Surgeons, which is conducting an independent review of Florida’s existing regulatory code managed by the Florida State Department of Health.
Dr. Mark G. McKenney, chief of trauma surgery, heads the KRMC center following experience at Jackson’s Ryder Trauma Center for over 20 years where he served as chief of trauma surgery and the center’s medical director
McKenney believes that Miami-Dade County has been “underserved for years in care for trauma cases,” noting that before KRMC opened its unit, “transportation from southwestern parts of Miami-Dade County cost patients critical time.”
As a provisional Level II trauma center, the KRMC unit’s primary focus is to provide optimal care by a multidisciplinary trauma team that includes pre hospital personnel, trauma surgeons, emergency medicine physicians, specialist consult physicians, nurses, and ancillary staff, according to Peter Jude, KRMC spokesperson.
The trauma center differs from a typical emergency department in that it is equipped to provide specialized, comprehensive emergency medical services to patients suffering traumatic injuries, he said.
A key component is having a trauma surgeon at the patient’s bedside within minutes after notification of the arrival of a patient judged to be in need of rapid assessment of injuries, a critical factor in successful treatment, he said.
A Level II center is required to be open 24 hours but specialists are “on call” rather than stationed at the facility. Trauma teams assess seriousness of patient injuries to relay the care needed even before transporting the most seriously injured to a trauma center like Kendall Regional, Jude explained.