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Trauma center opens after long battle

ORANGE PARK, Fla. – There's exciting change for folks in Clay County. Orange Park Medical Center has reopened its trauma center after a long battle. 

During an emergency, every second counts.

"Time is of the essence," said Chad Patrick, CEO at Orange Park Medical Center. "Getting those patients to the right facility in the appropriate amount of time is really important, and we can reduce the rate of morality by 25 percent if you can get the patient to a designated trauma center within an hour."  

After six months of preparations, Orange Park Medical Center has now received the green light by the Florida Department of Health to operate as a Provisional Level II trauma center. 

READ: Provisional approval letter for OPMC

Before this, UF Health was the only trauma center in Jacksonville, serving the five counties in Northeast Florida. UF Health also fought hard to remain the only trauma center in the region - concerned that adding another would decrease the number of trauma patients brought to the hospital.

Dan Leveton with UF Health said in a statement to News4Jax, “We are aware of the provisional trauma status recently awarded to several facilities in Florida, including Orange Park, and are now considering our options."

With the addition of Orange Park's 52-room trauma facility, patients now have more options. It's also a much-needed center for the growing community of Clay County residents and first responders. 

"The question that I get notoriously all the time since I've been here is: When are we going to get our trauma center?" said Patrick.

Since the opening of Orange Park's trauma facility on May 1, almost two dozen patients have been treated at the center.

"It's been overwhelming support from the community," said Patrick.

The trauma center will be under a provisional status for the next 12 to 18 months until the Department of Health determines whether or not full verification is granted.