USF Health, HCA announce trauma partnership


See media coverage of announcement at end of this story

          The citizens of Florida will have better odds of surviving the worst accidents and injuries, thanks to a new trauma partnership announced Tuesday between USF Health and HCA, say officials with the two institutions.

         “What you’ll be hearing about is an opportunity to make Floridians safer,” said Stephen Klasko, MD, MBA, dean of the USF College of Medicine and CEO of USF Health.

        USF Health and HCA are forming a statewide trauma network dedicated to improving access to quality trauma care and services in Florida. The joint initiative will enable five HCA hospitals in underserved areas to provide trauma care.

         Florida residents also will benefit from centralized statewide data collection for trauma research and coordination of services not readily accessible in underserved areas of the state.

L to R: Chuck Hall, president, and Mike Marks, CFO, both of the HCA Eastern Group; Dr. Jonathan Perlin, HCA chief medical officer; and Stephen K. Klasko, CEO for USF Health and medical dean.

        The agreement also marks the kind of out-of-the-box thinking that is needed as the nation’s health system moves into a time of profound change as a result of healthcare reform and a changing medical landscape, Dr. Klasko said.

        “These kinds of consolidations and collaborations with two great organizations for the right reasons are really what will make healthcare reform and healthcare transformation work,” Dr. Klasko said. “At USF Health, we try to get together with great partners. To act boldly, think creatively, and work cooperatively to find new agreements and new pathways to improve healthcare.

        “We believe that this is an area, trauma, where we will be able to do just that, and fulfill our mission to the state and to people throughout the country.”

         Today only about 38 percent of trauma patients in Florida receive treatment in a designated trauma center, below both the national average and the state’s goal to have 65 percent of trauma patients treated in a Florida licensed trauma center.

Dr. Stephen K. Klasko, CEO for USF Health and Dean, College of Medicine

     “Getting a patient to a trauma center within the first hour of injury, or golden hour, drastically increases their chance of survival,’” said Jonathan Perlin, MD, PhD, MSHA,FACP, FACMI, president clinical services and Chief Medical Officer for HCA. “Research supported by the Centers for Disease Control shows trauma mortality is reduced when a seriously injured patient is treated at a trauma center versus a non-trauma hospital.“  

       In Florida, the leading cause of trauma injury is motor vehicle crashes, accounting for 42.8 percent of all injuries in 2008.  Motor vehicle injury fatality rates are strongly associated with distance from trauma center to the site of the injury event, according to A Comprehensive Assessment of the Florida Trauma Center, conducted by USF and UF for the Florida Department of Health.  The assessment further noted that a county’s overall mortality rate is higher if a trauma center is not present.

     “It is absolutely critical that we expand access to trauma care to state-designated trauma service areas not currently being served,” said Dr. Perlin.  “Trauma centers deliver superior outcomes for their patients and we are excited to have USF join us as we work to improve the access to quality trauma care in Florida.”

Dr. Jonathan Perlin, HCA Chief Medical Officer

      The new network’s focus on quality patient care and expanded research initiatives will help improve trauma care across Florida, Dr. Klasko said.

    “Our goal is to have Florida be the safest state in the nation,” Dr. Klasko said. “This network will provide the state’s trauma patients with consistent and state-of-the-art care.”

     The network will provide an invaluable source of trauma research data, said David J. Smith Jr., MD, chair of the USF Department of Surgery. As part of the affiliation agreement, the HCA hospitals will convey data to a centralized analysis center at USF Health — the new Florida Trauma Research and Analysis Center (TRAC).

      “Trends that might not be identified by looking at one hospital’s data may show up by looking at five,” Dr. Smith said. “Florida TRAC will help doctors learn how to better treat trauma patients, whether they are injured in car crashes or suffering from heart attacks.”

      The trauma network also will be poised to respond quickly in the case of a major disaster in various areas of the state, Dr. Smith pointed out. Because the trauma surgeons at each center will undergo credentialing and follow the same procedures at each place, they will be more mobile in the event of a hurricane or other mass casualty event.

      The combination of breadth of services at HCA throughout Florida with the research and education capabilities of one the fastest growing research medical schools will serve to make the citizens of Florida healthier and allow Florida to take a leadership role in the future of healthcare.

Dr. David J. Smith, Jr., USF Chair of Surgery

      “It will be increasingly important for health care providers throughout the state to collaborate and consolidate, especially in the areas of research and education,” said Charles Paidas, MD, MBA, associate dean for graduate medical education. “Working with HCA will allow us to expand our areas of excellence, and the end result will be a healthier community.”

      USF will name a chief trauma medical director to oversee the network and appoint a medical director of trauma at each hospital, as well as helping to recruit needed specialists. USF expects to hire at least five trauma surgeons at each hospital, Dr. Smith said.

       HCA expects to invest about $20 million in building costs to provide trauma centers at the five hospitals, said Mike Marks, chief financial officer for HCA’s Eastern Group.

      The new trauma network will strengthen USF’s existing relationship with Tampa General Hospital, a Level One trauma center in which USF trauma surgeons provide care, Dr. Klasko said.

      “We’re very proud of the work we do (at Tampa General) and we think we’re one of the best in the country,” Dr. Klasko said. “We believe this will significantly strengthen that effort.”

       It also increases USF Health’s statewide impact on health care.

       “This is another example of USF Health doing what it does best around outcomes research, education and excellent clinical activity and being able to move it statewide,” Dr. Klasko said. “It’s a way to extend a Tampa Bay brand throughout the state.”

        The affiliation agreement will provide for USF’s collaboration and expertise at these five HCA facilities: Blake Medical Center (Manatee County), Kendall Regional Medical Center (Dade County), Lawnwood Medical Center (St Lucie County), Orange Park Medical Center (Clay County) and Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point (Pasco County).  All have applied for Level II Trauma Center designation. Lawnwood already is approved and operating, and the other four hospitals are in various stages of the application process.

        In May 2009, Lawnwood Regional Medical Center opened a trauma program that has already served close to 1,000 patients.  According to Perlin, the program has far exceeded anticipated benefits, not only for trauma patients but for the community as a whole.

        “All patients benefit from the collaboration, energy and medical expertise a trauma program brings to a hospital and to a community,” Dr. Perlin said.

        The affiliation agreement is an example of how USF Health is working to help improve the health of all Florida residents, Dr. Klasko said.

        “In a time of great healthcare transformation, it’s more important than ever that the state’s top medical schools work with hospitals throughout the state to provide the best care,” Dr. Klasko said. “This affiliation agreement will be a major step in that direction.”

– Story by USF Health and HCA Offices of Communication; photos by Eric Younghans; video production by Amy Mariani, USF Health Communications

Media coverage of USF and HCA trauma network announcement:


USF/HCA partnership will bring trauma care to under-served areas in Florida

St. Petersburg Times


USF partners with HCA to create Florida trauma care network

Tampa Tribune


USF and HCA envision trauma network

Sarasota Herald-Tribune


Hospital Chain and USF team up on Florida trauma center network

Sarasota Herald-Tribune: BLOG


USF Health – HCA detail trauma affiliation

Tampa Bay Business Journal


Blake to join statewide trauma network

Bradenton Herald


Trauma care closer to home



University of South Florida to affiliate with HCA for trauma care

Becker’s Hospital Review


USF helping hospitals expand trauma care

Lakeland Ledger


HCA trauma care network to expand in Florida

Health Leaders Media