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USF Health and HCA announce partnership

USF Health and Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) announced a six-year partnership agreement Monday to improve access to care and services for trauma patients.

Under the agreement, USF will help recruit and train doctors from across the nation to work in HCA hospitals.

Five HCA facilities, which are a part of a network of 38 Florida hospitals, were chosen to tend to “underserved areas” of the state where there are no trauma centers, said HCA Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Perlin during the announcement.

The five facilities USF will work with are Blake Medical Center in Bradenton, the Kendall Regional Medical Center in Miami, Lawnwood Medical Center in Fort Pierce, Orange Park Medical Center in Orange Park and Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point in Hudson.

“Our mission in HCA is to provide the highest quality health care in the communities we have the privilege of serving,” Perlin said. “Only 38 percent (of trauma patients) are seen when they have trauma … in a (local) sophisticated trauma center, and this is below the national average of the state’s goal of access of 65 percent of trauma patients.”

Stephen Klasko, CEO of USF Health and dean of the College of Medicine, said the five locations will communicate research, records and techniques with one another via e-mail and conference calls.

“Like Moffitt has 16 affiliates … everything now is electronic. We have electronic medical records,” he said. “We’ll be able to take what happens at Blake, take what happens at Tampa General, mix all that together and come up with better outcomes for patients.”

Klasko said that by Oct. 1, the centers “will be able to offer a much higher degree of trauma care than they were able to do before.”

Mike Marks, chief financial officer for the eastern division of HCA, said the company has designated about $20 million for the startup costs.

“A lot of it is equipment … and to staff and tend to trauma centers,” he said. “It’s a big investment by both USF and HCA. The capital investment is HCA. USF will be employing positions.”

Klasko said USF Health will also hire a network head, who will oversee all five centers and Tampa General Hospital, and has set three goals to achieve during the partnership which is up for renewal after six years.

“One goal is to become one of the highest quality of safety trauma networks in the country,” he said. “No. 2 is attract some of the top trauma surgeons in the country, and No. 3 is to make sure that everyone in the state has the opportunity to get the best trauma care whether they’re in Jacksonville, Tampa or Ocala.”

According to a USF and HCA fact sheet, “Trauma is the No. 1 cause of death for people ages 1 to 44.”

Klasko said, “Things never go according to plan, but we will be ready by October.”