Wolfson Children’s Hospital is now equipped and staffed to treat pediatric trauma cases.
State Surgeon General Celeste Philip, secretary of the Florida Department of Health, signed off Tuesday on Wolfson’s plan to open a pediatric trauma center.
Wolfson was ready Wednesday morning to begin treating trauma cases, said Michael Aubin, the hospital president.
Originally expecting to begin treating trauma cases last May, the hospital converted two rooms in its pediatric emergency center to serve as pediatric trauma rooms, he said. The hospital has also established a pediatric trauma surgical suite on the second floor of the Weaver Tower, which has beds for patients of both Wolfson and Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville.
The plan to create a trauma center at Wolfson is “something we’ve been working on for a few years,” Aubin said.
Until the state Department of Health agreed to give Wolfson provisional status as pediatric trauma center, all pediatric trauma patients in Northeast Florida were taken to trauma centers at UF Health Jacksonville or UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville and then moved to Wolfson after stabilization.
Pediatric trauma cases now can go to Wolfson as well as to the trauma centers downtown and in Gainesville. With trauma alert cases involving life-threatening injuries, the cases will continue to go to the nearest trauma center.
Aubin said he expects Wolfson to treat about 50 trauma alert cases a year and to see about 25 pediatric trauma cases a month.
Philip’s decision to approve status as a provisional pediatric trauma center came three weeks after an administrative law judge recommended approval of the trauma center.
Wolfson filed the administrative challenge after an earlier decision by the Department of Health to reject the proposal.
Approval of a provisional trauma center is a kind of temporary status, though hospitals then can go through a process to get more-permanent approval.
Administrative Law Judge R. Bruce McKibben issued a recommendation that Wolfson be approved as a pediatric trauma center Nov. 14.
“It is Wolfson’s desire to operate its own pediatric trauma center, thereby obviating the need for a trauma patient to first go to UF Health Jacksonville or Shands before being transferred,” McKibben wrote. “There are times when a delay in transfer can have negative consequences for the patient. The number of such occurrences was not quantified by Wolfson, but Wolfson considers it a significant problem.”
In initially turning down the proposal, the Department of Health cited what it saw as deficiencies in Wolfson’s application.
Wolfson has created a waiting room for the families of children brought to its pediatric trauma center that will be separate from the waiting room for the pediatric emergency center, Aubin said. The pediatric trauma center is being staffed by physicians from both Nemours Children’s Specialty Care and from UF Health.
This story includes material from the News Service of Florida.
Charlie Patton: (904) 359-4413