Trauma victims diverted again

Bayfront's shortage of neurosurgeons for emergencies is expected to last till Monday.

By Lisa Greene, Times Staff Writer
Published March 1, 2008

ST. PETERSBURG - Bayfront Medical Center started diverting trauma patients to Tampa again Friday morning because it had no neurosurgeons available for emergencies, state regulators said Friday.

The situation is expected to last through the weekend.

It was the second time this week that Pinellas County's only Level II trauma center had to stop taking trauma patients.

Bayfront stopped taking trauma patients Tuesday morning, resumed Thursday morning, and stopped again 24 hours later.

Two of the hospital's four neurosurgeons recently stopped working emergency calls. Neurosurgeons are among 10 specialists the hospital must have on call to be considered a trauma center.

Bayfront won't have neurosurgeons on emergency duty again until Monday at 7 a.m., said Susan Smith, a spokeswoman for the state Health Department.

The hospital is talking to the two neurosurgeons who have stopped emergency calls, as well as trying to recruit others for emergency work, Bayfront spokeswoman Kanika Tomalin said.

"Our hospital's administration is talking to every neurosurgeon in our community about their ability and willingness to take trauma call at our hospital," she said. "We're extending that to neurosurgeons outside our community."

There is a statewide shortage of neurosurgeons willing to be on call for emergencies. Hospitals in Orlando, Palm Beach and other areas have had problems.

When Bayfront isn't available, trauma patients are taken to Tampa General Hospital, a Level I trauma center, or St. Joseph's Hospital, a Level II trauma center.