More delays in trauma (drama) center hearings

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As the battle over the trauma-care system continues, two administrative law judges have again delayed hearings on the conflict between leading hospitals and the Florida Department of Health.

Once case was originally set to begin Thursday, but rescheduled by Administrative Law Judge R. Bruce McKibben for April 28.

That case was brought by a number of leading hospitals with long-standing trauma centers against the DOH over the approval process for new facilities.

Last month, in response to a proposed change in the trauma-care rule the DOH announced in February, UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Tampa General Hospital, The Public Health Trust of Miami-Dade County, Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg, St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa and Memorial Regional Hospital in Broward County filed petitions seeking to block the new rules,

Those hospitals are part of a long-running legal battle over trauma centers the DOH allowed to open at hospitals affiliated with the HCA health-care chain.

Administrative Law Judge James H. Peterson III also delayed another case, scheduled to start next week, brought on by Shands to challenge a trauma center in the Ocala Regional Medical Center, which opened in 2012. That hearing will begin May 28.

At the same time, lawmakers in Tallahassee are considering bills to ensure the continued operation of disputed trauma centers at Ocala Regional Medical Center, as well as two other HCA hospitals— Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point in Pasco County and Blake Medical Center in Manatee County.

One of those bills (SB 1276) will come before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday.

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.