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UCF Backs HCA in Trauma Fight

The Florida Department of Health’s new plan for approving hospital trauma centers continues to attract debate from parties that have bickered over the issue for years.

At a hearing Wednesday in Orlando, supporters of suburban, mostly for-profit hospitals applauded the plan that could increase the state’s number of trauma centers from 25 to 43, the News Service of Florida reported.

Leaders from larger medical centers in Jacksonville, Gainesville and the Tampa Bay area argued as they have for the past two years; too many trauma centers water down the medical talent pool and increases costs, the News Service said.

The proposal– the result of a lawsuit filed by a group of larger, more established trauma centers - creates a point system to determine the number of trauma centers in Florida’s 19 service areas. Criteria include an area’s population, the time it takes to transport patients to an existing trauma center and the level of support for a center from the area’s local elected officials.

Eight of the 19 areas could justify three trauma centers, while just two meet criteria for just one, according to a mapof the proposal. For example, the plan proposes the region serving Manatee, Sarasota and DeSoto Counties increase from one verified trauma center to three.

Juan Cendan, an assistant dean at the University of Central Florida’s College of Medicine, supported the expansion as a way to keep post-graduate medical students in state. The Orlando Business Journal reported that UCF is trying to create a medical school with the HCA Inc.-owned Osceola Regional Medical Center in Kissimmee.

"We see it as a critical for a teaching hospital," Cendan told the Business Journal. "We support the addition of any new graduate medical education sites in the state and feel a teaching hospital anchored by a trauma center would be an opportunity for our students to stay here."

Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.