Officials lobby for trauma center in Okaloosa County

trauma center fort walton beach medical center

The director of emergency services at Fort Walton Beach Medical Center and Okaloosa County Sheriff Larry Ashley spoke in favor of bringing a trauma center to Okaloosa County during a Friday workshop about possible changes to the state’s trauma system.

FILE PHOTO / Northwest Florida Daily News
Published: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 12:48 PM.

FORT WALTON BEACH — Changes could be made soon to the number of certified trauma centers in Northwest Florida and throughout the state.

The Florida Department of Health hosted a workshop Friday morning at the Okaloosa County Health Department to gather input about possible changes to the state’s trauma system.

Florida is divided into 19 trauma service areas. Trauma Service Area 1 is comprised of Okaloosa, Walton, Santa Rosa and Escambia counties. The only certified trauma centers in the area are Sacred Heart Hospital and Baptist Medical Center in Pensacola.

One of the key points that Okaloosa County’s delegation raised Friday was the need for trauma care nearby.

“I can tell you as being a father, a husband, a son, that in the event that there’s something that happens to myself or my family, I want to go to the closest, most appropriate place I can to get the best care, and I don’t want to travel for over an hour,” said Wes Boles, director of emergency services at Fort Walton Beach Medical Center. “I don’t want to sit on scene for 20 minutes waiting for an aircraft to come so I can get care. If we have an opportunity to affect the quality of care in the state of Florida, then we have to take many, many variables into consideration.

“Let’s not fight over who gets what and where. Let’s put the patient first,” Boles added.

Friday’s workshop was the seventh in a series of meetings around the state to discuss the trauma system. It also was the first of three workshops in counties without a certified trauma center. The Department of Health will host similar meetings in Collier and Highlands counties later this month.

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