The state's approval of two new area trauma centers will not slow the legal disputes from competing hospitals.
Officials from Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg and Tampa General Hospital and St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa said Monday they will continue challenging the centers at Hudson's Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point and Blake Medical Center in Bradenton.
The state Department of Health announced late Friday it was making permanent the two suburban trauma centers that opened in 2011 on a "provisional" status. They join 22 other trauma centers at hospitals in the state, including the three in Tampa and St. Petersburg.
Florida Surgeon General John Armstrong said the decision was made based on rules in place when the two hospitals applied to become trauma centers.
However, that rule was deemed invalid in December by a 1st District Court of Appeal judge overseeing the lawsuit between the state and the urban trauma centers. The lawsuit, filed last year, maintains the region does not need more hospitals equipped with the specialized level of medical care.
Administrative judges should be the ones to make this call, not the State Department of Health, attorneys said Monday.
"The decision to grant trauma center status to those two hospitals is subject to the pending appeal we have filed in the First District Court of Appeal," Bayfront officials said in a statement. "That decision does not in any way affect our pending litigation, nor change our position regarding what's best for the area Bayfront serves."