Florida Supreme Court denies review of trauma center case

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In the legal and political battle over trauma centers statewide, HCA Health Care suffered a serious setback when the Florida Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal filed by the health-care chain over continued operation of facilities at various HCA-run hospitals.

Justices issued a brief order on Monday saying they will not review the First District Court of Appeal decision advancing the challenge by existing facilities in Tampa Bay and Jacksonville over the state approval of new HCA trauma centers.

Both the Florida Department of Health and HCA filed an appeal arguing that the four hospitals — Tampa General Hospital, St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa, St. Petersburg’s Bayfront Medical Center and UF Health Jacksonville — did not have the legal standing to challenge DOH approvals of the HCA trauma centers.

In September, the First District Court of Appeal rejected that argument, forcing HCA to file an appeal with the Supreme Court.

The denial by the Supreme Court is the latest chapter in the legal and legislative dispute centering on the continued operation of HCA-affiliated trauma centers at Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point in Pasco County, Blake Medical Center in Manatee County, and Ocala Regional Medical Center in Marion County.

The case facing the Supreme Court also included the trauma center at HCA’s Orange Park Medical Center, which opened in 2011 but then closed for unrelated reasons.

At issue is the claim that the Department of Health used an invalid rule when approving the HCA trauma centers.

Legislators are considering bills that would allow the continued operation of the newest trauma centers in hospitals in Manatee, Pasco and Marion Counties.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.