More Trauma Drama: Hospital pushes back on expansion in Jax

Does the trauma drama never end?

After a bill to expand trauma centers once again failed in the state Legislature earlier this year, a new legal fight is underway in Jacksonville that could affect how catastrophic injuries are dealt with throughout the state.

UF Health Jacksonville has challenged a state decision to give preliminary approval to a new trauma facility at a rival hospital, according to the News Service of Florida.

The Florida Department of Health decision last month gave what is known as “provisional” approval for a trauma center at Memorial Hospital Jacksonville, according to documents filed in the case.

UF Health Jacksonville also has been in a legal battle over a state decision to allow a trauma center to open at Orange Park Medical Center in nearby Clay County.

The argument by existing trauma centers is that by opening new ones it dilutes the needed medical expertise necessary to respond to these life-threatening injuries. State law caps the number of trauma centers statewide at 44.

In Palm Beach County, there are two Level 1 trauma centers at St. Mary’s Medical Center and Delray Medical Center. The Health Care District of Palm Beach County runs the trauma system, though.

These hospitals pushed back on efforts by JFK Medical Center in Atlantis to open up a trauma center last year.

Read the whole News Service of Florida story by clicking here.

Medical marijuana: State just says no to buds for vaping

Well, that didn’t take long.

In Florida’s quest to keep people from smoking medical marijuana, the state Department of Health ordered an operator to stop selling “whole-flower” products to be used in vaporizers, according to the News Service of Florida.

The Health Department sent a cease-and-desist letter to Trulieve after news reports in the last few days about the sales of the whole flower marijuana in pre-made cups to be used in its volcano vaporizing device.

Whole-flower is the natural form of the marijuana plant, the buds that recreational smokers traditionally have used for decades.

The fear among some was that the cups could easily be dismantled and the whole-flower marijuana smoked in pipes, bongs, or joints — not allowed for patients under Florida’s current medical-marijuana laws.

Only those with a doctor’s approval and on the state’s list can buy from Trulieve, which sells other cannabis products for vaping that is not whole-flower marijuana. It has five stores throughout the state and is one of a handful operating medical marijuana dispensaries currently.

“Licensed dispensing organizations have a responsibility to ensure their product is not one that can easily be transitioned into a smokable form. Therefore, whole flower products are not permitted,” state Office of Compassionate Use Director Christian Bax wrote to Trulieve on Monday.

“Given the above facts, Trulieve is hereby ordered to immediately cease and desist sale of its Entourage product,” Bax wrote.

 

This all comes in front of the backdrop of the Legislature’s failure the last session to come up with a law to implement a constitutional amendment establishing medical marijuana in Florida approved by 72 percent of the voters last year.

The Health Department has to come up with rules governing new medical marijuana dispensaries by mid-summer and implemented by October.

Lawmakers have come up against smoking medical marijuana, saying it is unhealthy but John Morgan — the Orlando trial lawyer who largely bankrolled what was known as Amendment 2 — has pledged to sue the state over the smoking issue.

Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers, in a statement, said the company was surprised by the letter but is “immediately and completely complying with the department’s wishes while evaluating our options.”

Rivers told the News Service last week she believed the product was legal and that her company had been selling whole-flower products for nearly a year.

Advocates, including Rivers, says vaping whole-flower marijuana creates an “entourage” effect that is better medicinally.

The benefits of medical cannabis include relief for chronic pain and muscle spasm. It relieves nausea during chemotherapy treatment for cancer patients. It also has been used for the treatment of Tourette’s syndrome, anorexia, arthritis, migraines, and glaucoma.

Other states, of course, allow the sale of whole-flower medical marijuana.

Whole-flower medical marijuana sold at a dispensary in California. Florida lawmakers don’t want such shops here, saying smoking medical cannabis is unhealthy. Photo: Jeff Ostrowski.

To read the whole News Service of Florida story click here.

 

Flu season is here in Florida, taking two lives already

The flu season in Florida has arrived.

Earlier this month, the Florida Department of Health confirmed a 7-year-old and a 17-year-old died from influenza-associated complication.flu-shot

“We are beginning to see an increase in flu activity in our county. Now is a good time to remind all that a flu shot is an excellent preventive measure,” said Dr. Alina Alonso, Director, Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County.

Surgeon General and Secretary of Health Dr. Celeste Philip said most people view the flu as a minimal threat, but Floridians should take flu infection seriously.

Besides a flu shot, the Department of Health says it also essential to practice good hygiene by properly and frequently washing your hands to help prevent the spread of seasonal flu.

“Make it a habit to clean and disinfect commonly used surfaces in your home, school or office. You can take additional steps to ward off the flu by coughing or sneezing into a tissue or your elbow and avoiding touching your face,” the Health Department reminds.

Stuart doctor suspended for alcohol abuse arrested for DUI

Dermatologist Dr. Robert Berg of Stuart – temporarily suspended from practicing in December because of his “significant alcohol use – was arrested this week for DUI.

Berg was arrested 2:46 a.m. on Monday in Palm City, according the Martin County booking blotter drinsignia

Berg had practiced for 20 years with Dermatology of Treasure Coast in Stuart when the Department of Health issues a restriction on Dec. 31

The order prohibits Berg from practicing as a physician until an approved evaluator notifies the department he was sober enough to return to work. The department also filed an administrative complaint against Berg in January.

According to the state’s order in December, Berg’s staff started to notice a change in Berg’s personality. He became obsessed with getting enough sleep and started using a combination of alcohol and sleep aid medications.

Berg started to miss work, forcing staff to go to his home to see if he was OK.

The state’s order said Berg walked out of a drug and rehabilitation center in 2014 and refused professional counseling.

Senate holds fate of Florida Surgeon General

It’s been a tough year for Florida Surgeon General Dr. John Armstrong.

Gov. Rick Scott’s head of the Department of Health is having trouble getting reconfirmed.

dr-john-armstrong
Florida Surgeon General Dr. John Armstrong

A Senate’s Ethics & Elections Committee is scheduled Tuesday to consider again the confirmation after a previous hearing was postponed partly out of fear Armstrong didn’t have enough votes.

It looks a bit better for him today as in the last week some medical groups have offered a show of support. Of particular concern among  AIDS groups  was Armstrong’s response to a spike in HIV cases in the Sunshine State. Armstrong has made HIV prevention a priority issue in the last few months.

He has also received questions about a drop in the number of people receiving services from county health departments as staff has been slashed.

Armstrong narrowly escaped an earlier panel – the Senate Health Policy Committee – when it voted 5-4 to approve the surgeon general’s nomination

Late last year, Armstrong announced he had colon cancer, undergoing surgery. Gov.  Scott issued a statement of support on Monday:

“Dr. John Armstrong is a fighter. Not only is he currently fighting against colon cancer, but he has continued to fight for the well-being of everyone in our state – whether it is against epidemics like Ebola and Zika, or illnesses like cancer or AIDS that are still affecting far too many in our state.”

The 2016 session is the final opportunity for confirmation or he will be forced to step down. Armstrong was appointed in 2012.