Access to emergency care is one of the few situations one could accurately label as “life or death.” ACEP (American College of Emergency Physicians) compiled a study of every state’s emergency access; Florida scored a D- in “public health and injury prevention” and an F in “access to emergency care.” In a life threatening circumstance, one can only imagine the atrocities that could arise from living in a state awarded an “F”.
The Sunshine State is comprised of a disproportionate number of seniors and retirees, and hence, a comprehensive healthcare system should reflect and cater to that. In spite of that, new hospitals have felt a tidal wave of coercion to close their doors from previously existing hospitals recently. Pasco County’s Regional Medical Center and Manatee County’s Blake Medical Center are among two of the new hospitals facing enormous amounts of pressure, and they’re not the only hospitals dealing with such unnecessary adversity. Lawsuits claim that they “steal” patients and market share from other, previously established hospitals.
When you live an hour away, and have a half hour to get to emergency care –the words “market share” and “location” inherit a new relativity. Have you ever heard of a retailer filing a lawsuit because they “steal” customers and market share? The very concept seems asinine. When, as is the case in Florida, there is a need – there is a void to be filled or patients are forced to do without.
The “established” hospitals allege that there aren’t enough patients to support more trauma care unit, and that if the physicians at the older hospitals do not receive enough patients, their skills will inevitably erode. Moreover, the argument is made (albeit poorly) that the number of Floridians living within an hour of a trauma center is above the national average. Finally, the suit claims that the new trauma centers never should have been approved based on outdated policy.
If the outdated policy shouldn’t allow trauma centers, should it instead allow existing ones to continue maintaining a failing grade? Or should the patient’s choice be the determining factor?
The new Trauma Allocation Rule may help, however. A Department of Health workshop earlier this month reviewed various angles of the problem, and has focused on community needs and location, as well as other factors. The HCA has publicly commented that it believes this new allocation to be a “positive step forward in creating a 21st Century trauma system.”
No matter the outcome, one thing is certain; there is a void to fill in the healthcare industry. With the Affordable Care Act, there will be changes, and as the Baby Boomers advance in age, so will the needs grow. Thus, the already large demand for healthcare will only increase.
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