Children’s Hospital Challenges Trauma Center Denial

Jun 2, 2017

A Jacksonville children's hospital is challenging a decision by the Florida Department of Health that prevented the hospital from opening a trauma center.

Wolfson Children's Hospital wants an administrative law judge to back arguments that it should be allowed to open what is known as a “provisional” pediatric trauma center, according to documents posted Thursday on the state Division of Administrative Hearings website.

The Department of Health on May 1 rejected the proposal, saying Wolfson did not meet certain standards in its application. Wolfson, in a 14-page challenge, disputed the department's conclusions.

“WCH (Wolfson) has already incurred the considerable expense of putting the necessary resources in place to operate a trauma center and will continue to incur substantial costs in order to keep these resources in place while it pursues a trauma center designation,” the document said. “At the same time, absent the provisional license, WCH will be unable to receive offsetting revenue from the treatment of trauma patients. Also adversely affected are the pediatric trauma patients who are being denied access to what would be the only pediatric trauma center” in a five-county region of Northeast Florida.

The Wolfson case is the latest in a series of legal battles across the state about whether hospitals should be allowed to open trauma centers. Another case emerged in recent weeks because of the department's denial of a proposal by St. Petersburg's Northside Hospital to open a trauma center.

Lawmakers this spring considered a proposal that would have changed criteria for approval of new trauma centers --- likely allowing more to open --- but the issue was not heard in the Senate. Trauma centers initially receive provisional approval to open and then pursue a more-permanent status.