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Osceola Regional Medical Center applies to become trauma center

Updated:

ORLANDO, Fla. - New proposed state rules discussed in Orlando last week could bring more life-saving care to central Florida trauma patients.

Osceola Regional Medical Center has submitted an application with the state to become the second trauma center in central Florida.

Officials in Kissimme have already started hiring for trauma services. So far, they've got six trauma surgeons and a number of other positions already on staff, but they have to wait on policy makers in Tallahassee to approve a set of rules that would allow for up to three trauma centers in central Florida.

About 13 people were hurt when a 73-year-old driver crashed a van full of children in Kissimmee a few weeks ago. One of the youngest victims was flown to Arnold Palmer Hospital, even though Osceola Regional was closer.

"There is no ability to get trauma care in Osceola County at this time," said Erik Barquist, the trauma director at Osceola Regional.

The hospital applied with the state Department of Health to become Trauma 2 certified, giving the area's most severely injured patients an option aside from Orlando Regional Medical Center for the first time.

According to the Department of Health, nearly 4,000 trauma patients visit ORMC every year. Right now, since it's the only trauma hospital in all of central Florida, about 40 percent of patients with severe injuries wind up in non-trauma hospitals, likely because they can get to those sites faster, officials said.

"The transport times to people injured south of here would be much shorter and in severe trauma, access means lives saved and in terms of response times, access means lives saved as well," said Barquist.

Other area trauma centers, including Ocala Regionals' trauma center, have been challenged by competing hospitals, which is prompting the state to change its rules.