Floridians’ New Year’s Resolution: Save Our Trauma Centers

(Alexandria, Virginia) — 60 Plus Association Chairman James L. Martin issued the following statement today as the organization launched a quarter million dollar ad campaign as a direct response to the Christmas Eve action by public funded hospitals who are seeking to close down Florida’s newest trauma centers.  The ads will blanket the television and radio markets in Tallahassee, Tampa, and the Gainesville/Ocala area.

“We remain focused on increasing access to quality trauma care for seniors.  Last year during the 2013 Florida Legislative Session, we advocated on behalf of our members in Florida who rely on access to local high quality trauma care.  Since then, the Florida Department of Health has continued on a path to develop a better equipped trauma network to serve the most essential needs of the state’s 4.2 million senior citizens and each of its 19.3 million residents.

“The number one cause of death among seniors is a traumatic fall, which one third of Florida’s 4.2 million elderly will suffer this year. With studies showing that seniors are 25 percent more likely to survive if treated at a trauma center, this issue is literally life or death for many seniors. It is vital that lawmakers work to ensure that seniors are not denied the critical care that in many instances can save their lives.”

Martin, himself a Floridian and University of Florida graduate, pointed out that 60 Plus has more than 800,000 senior citizen activists in the Sunshine state, making access to quality trauma care a significant issue for the Association.  The recent legal action by taxpayer-funded hospitals to shut down existing trauma centers is a serious concern, he said.

The Florida Department of Health is on the right track with its efforts to solidify a trauma center allocation rule that will ensure access to quality trauma care for all Floridians. But instead of demonstrating how local agencies and providers can work together to improve our health care system, taxpayer-funded hospitals in Florida are recklessly putting their bottom lines ahead of patients’ lives.

States like Florida need to send Washington a message that says: ‘we can improve our healthcare system without your interference,’ and the Florida Department of Health continues to do the right thing by inviting all stakeholders to come together to improve the state’s trauma network. It is very unfortunate that self-interested hospitals have ignored the needs of seniors and instead have fixated on their own profits. We encourage the Department to continue its life saving efforts on behalf of all Floridians.”