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Jackson Health System, Kendall Regional battle over trauma, in Miami-Dade and Tallahassee

Kendall Regional Medical Center lost one battle in the trauma wars Tuesday at the Miami-Dade County Commission, but has launched a new attack in Tallahassee, asking state regulators to reject a Jackson Health System request that Kendall maintains would force it to close its trauma center.

With about 100 supporters packing commission chambers wearing red T-shirts saying “Kendall Trauma Saves Lives,” Commissioner Javier Souto asked his colleagues to reconsider a Jan. 23 resolution, passed 10-0, authorizing Jackson to take legal action to protect its trauma programs.

Jackson has been complaining that its Ryder Trauma Center has been losing about $28 million a year since the state allowed Kendall Regional to open a second Dade trauma unit in November 2011. State regulators, meanwhile, have delayed granting licenses for trauma centers at Jackson North and Jackson South hospitals.

Souto said his office had been bombarded by 4,000 emails complaining that the commission had acted hastily in granting Jackson legal approval. “A big chunk of people are very offended.”

Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz said many of the “thousands” of emails he received quoted a Kendall executive as saying that the commission resolution was intended to “force Kendall to close its trauma center.”

“That’s a lie,” Diaz said. The commission simply gave Jackson an ability “to defend itself.”

The motion to reconsider died on a 6-6 vote.

Mark McKenney, medical director of the Kendall center, issued a statement calling the commission vote “a shame.” During his center’s first 15 months, “we have seen more than 2,550 trauma patients. ... Kendall Regional is dedicated to providing care to a community of 2.5 million people that, as the seventh most populated county in the U.S., has been greatly underserved. The facts are clear about the need for trauma services, and we will continue to fight to provide these vital medical services.”

Meanwhile, the fight at the state level continues.