WTOC Investigates: HCA history with Level One Trauma Centers

WTOC Investigates: HCA history with Level One Trauma Centers

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Memorial Health is transitioning from a non-profit hospital to a for-profit - pending the sale of the hospital to the Hospital Corporation of America.

There's been a lot of concern about what could potentially happen to the Level One Trauma Center once the sale is finalized. There are only five Level One Trauma Centers in Georgia - hospitals that handle the worst-of-the-worst cases. Memorial is the only Level One south of Macon.

In HCA's Letter of Intent, they are guaranteeing those core services for the first 10 years. But after that it's unclear.

According to their website, Hospital Corporation of America has a footprint in 20 states around the country. Between Georgia and South Carolina, they own more than a dozen hospitals. But you have to look even further to find a Level One Trauma Center.

Many of the 177 HCA-owned hospitals hold a trauma designation of level two, level three and level four but we found only five of their hospitals - less than three percent - with a level one designation.

This includes Wesley Medical Center in Wichita, Kansas. That hospital also went from a non-profit to a for-profit when it was bought out in 1985 and it remains a Level One Trauma Center and a Level Two Pediatric Center. And according to their website, they still offer charity care for uninsured patients.

But HCA has also been accused of breaking similar promises. They were taken to court a couple of years ago for allegedly not living up to their end of the deal after they bought out a non-profit Level One Trauma Center.

While we can make comparisons, no two deals are alike which is hardly comforting to know what the next 10 or 15 years will look like for Memorial.

According to HCA's Letter of Intent, they will continue charity care for the uninsured for at least five years and the Level One Trauma Center would be continued for the first 10 years. But after that, there are no guarantees.

As reported Tuesday, Shayne George has just been named as the new CEO.

This will be his first Level One hospital, he's coming from a Level Two at RMC Bayonet Point in Florida and prior to that he was at Doctor's Hospital in Augusta.

While that hospital may be a Level Three Trauma Center, it also holds an even higher degree of prestige being primary burn center in the Southeast.

The sale of Memorial must still be approved by the Attorney General's Office. That's expected to happen this month.

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