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Bill Ends HCA's Bid For A Trauma Center In St. Petersburg

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
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The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

A bill approved by the Florida Legislature would end HCA’s bid to open a trauma center at Northside Hospital in St. Petersburg.

Under the legislation, HCA will receive trauma center designations for two hospitals in Miami-Dade County and one in Clay County. But the bill blocked Northside's proposal, which was fighting its way through the court system after HCA applied last year.

“While we’re disappointed not to be able to move forward with Northside Hospital’s trauma program, this bill allows patients in several other areas of Florida to receive outstanding trauma care as part of the HCA Trauma Network,” HCA West Florida spokeswoman J.C. Sadler said in a prepared statement.

If Gov. Rick Scott signs the bill it will end years of arguments over where new trauma centers can open and how many are allowed in each area. It will also reduce the cap on the number of trauma centers allowed in the state from 44 to 35.

Bayfront Health St. Petersburg and Tampa's St. Joeseph's Hospital opposed HCA's application. Both have operated trauma centers in the area for decades.

Those arguing against more trauma centers contend that they are expensive to operate and require highly trained physicians, including a trauma surgeon in the hospital at all times.

HCA had argued that another trauma center in Pinellas County would improve access to care.  

The hospital has treated more heart attack emergencies during the past four years than any other in the county and has the only nationally-recognized comprehensive stroke center in Pinellas, Northside said in a statement released after it applied last year.

Julio Ochoa is editor of Health News Florida.