The Sarasota Memorial Hospital Board of Directors took the next step toward establishing the county's only trauma center today.
With a unanimous vote, the board approved a $3.6 million level two trauma center, which was approved by the board’s Mission and Planning Committee earlier this month. Medical staff leaders also supported the trauma center.
“We felt that Sarasota Memorial Hospital has the means, we have the specialists and the staffing,” said Dr. James Fiorica, Chief of Staff. “We feel we should do it.”
Having a designated trauma center allocates resources in the hospital specifically toward trauma operations, said Kim Savage, spokeswoman for Sarasota Memorial. The hospital already hired three trauma surgeons and is in the process of acquiring local specialists and other staff needed for the trauma team. The center will also get upgraded equipment and two designated ER rooms for trauma victims.
The specialized trauma team will have staff available 24 hours a day.
The center will cost about $10 million to operate per year for the first five years. The hospital is working with Tampa General Hospital, as it is the only trauma provider in the region to be verified by the American College of Surgeons, which is the highest recognition a trauma center can receive, Savage said.
The new service will incur an estimated $3.4 million in loss in the first five years, too, Savage said. The trauma center will be included in Sarasota Memorial’s mission services, which also includes its mother and baby care, pediatrics, neonatal care and psychiatric care. These services are essential services that the hospital provides to anyone, including those who have Medicaid or no medical insurance, Savage said,
The closest hospitals with trauma centers are Blake Medical Center, which is also a level two, and Tampa General Hospital, which is level one. Level one, a higher designation, includes more specialized services such as burn victim care.
“We are so proud to represent all of Sarasota County and lead in a decision that will lead to more fabulous service,” said Marguerite Malone, board chairwoman, before the vote. “It was going to have to be a decision made by the medical staff and the nursing staff and the people who were going to have to do it…it is a passion and moral need that we need to do.”
The trauma center still has to get state approval; Sarasota Memorial will submit the project to the Florida Department of Health April 1. Today’s vote committed funding, resources and personnel to the project.
“We’re all very excited about what we’re doing here… we’re so pleased we’ll be able to do this for our county,” Malone said.
Pending state approval, the center could be operational in May.
St. Armands Urgent Care Center
The board also approved the Mission and Planning Committee’s recommendation to demolish the current building and start anew for the St. Armands Urgent Care Center.
The hospital purchased the property at 500 John Ringling Boulevard in December for $3.6 million. The site is currently the location of St. Armands Medical Center. Owner Dr. Edward Carlstrom said he planned to move his practice to Bahia Vista.
The plan for an 8,700 square-foot building would include three stories, with one for parking. The report estimated the new building would cost $5 million or less and would open in December 2015.
The project is dependent on the city of Sarasota’s approval.