ORMC is the only trauma facility with Level 1 status -- the highest ranking -- between Jacksonville and Tampa. That status depends on having a full range of high-level emergency treatment services, including neurosurgery.
Because ORMC isn't a government-subsidized teaching facility, it doesn't have on-staff emergency room surgeons, relying instead on private neurosurgeons from the area. The surgeons take turns being on call in exchange for the privilege of seeing their private patients at the hospital.
But seven neurosurgeons have said that they won't work at the facility past May 1 because of skyrocketing medical malpractice insurance and lifestyle issues -- in Level 1 trauma centers, doctors have to be physically present at the hospital during their shifts, which typically last 24 hours at a time, up to seven times a month.
In a letter to the Orlando Sentinel, Jonathan Greenberg, chairman of ORMC's Department of Neurological Surgery, said: "I cannot fault my neurosurgical colleagues for having taken this action. They have complained that they were being charged significantly increased malpractice insurance premiums -- or were going to be denied malpractice insurance altogether -- for the privilege of getting up in the middle of the night to take care of critically ill head- and spine-injured patients."
Greenberg says the on-call work hurts the physicians' private practices as well.
ORMC has officially informed the state it will abandon the trauma services -- state law requires six months' notice -- without a suitable long-term solution. But hospital officials note that even if local governments devise a way to subsidize the trauma operations, other physicians will expect the same benefits.
Without the Level 1 trauma designation, the center's officials have made it clear that the hospital will become a "community hospital" with an emergency room but no trauma services at all.
"The main thing is to look at both long- and short-term solutions," says ORMC spokesman Joe Brown. "We patched together an on-call system to operate in April, and we could do the same thing month to month, but that's not going to work forever."
IN THE NEWS
CELEBRATION -- Now that Celebration Co. has launched its last subdivision, Arvida is taking over management of the Celebration Residential Gallery from the Disney subsidiary. Arvida will distribute information about the entire community and all nine builders there but will handle sales only for Arvida's new subdivision.
DAYTONA BEACH -- Brown & Brown (NYSE-BRO) plans to ask shareholders for permission to double its ability to issue stock, saying it wants 280 million shares at its disposal to make acquisitions or authorize a split.
LAKE MARY -- UnitedHealth Group will close a call center operated by its Uniprise subsidiary, eliminating 220 jobs.
LEESBURG -- Leesburg Regional Medical Center has paid nearly $1.5 million to settle a Medicare fraud lawsuit. The complaint alleged the hospital used diagnostic codes in Medicare billing forms that were reimbursed at a higher rate than the actual procedure used, a technique called "upcoding."
MELBOURNE -- Harris Corp. (NYSE-HRS) delivered its first set of hardware for the military's new Joint Strike Fighter program. The deliveries were part of a $68-million avionics contract Harris has with Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin.
ORANGE COUNTY -- The Orange County Commission approved a $2.2-million stimulus package to fund 18 programs. The bulk of the money will go to UCF for services aimed at encouraging entrepreneurs. In addition, Orange County Public Schools will get funding to develop tourism and travel curricula.
The expansion of the Orange County Convention Center faces cost overruns of another $40 million, erasing the project's contingency fund and leaving the project tens of millions of dollars short. The contingency fund originally held $30 million, but that has been spent down to $9 million. County officials are working out a way to pay or reduce the potential $31 million shortfall.
ORLANDO -- Time Warner Cable and Sunshine Network reached a multiyear contract to return Sunshine to Time Warner's lineup. Sunshine, which televises Orlando Magic basketball games as well as other professional and collegiate sporting events, had been absent since the old contract expired Jan. 1. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Lincoln Property plans to develop and manage two buildings in the Baldwin Park Village Center that will boast more than 65,000 square feet of class A space.
A group of Asian investors has revealed plans to redevelop a former Wal-Mart/Publix shopping center in west Orlando as Chinatown, a shopping and restaurant venue. The 300,000-sq.-ft. project aims to
attract 60 Asian-owned businesses by the end of the year. A shopping center next door is also being redeveloped with an Asian theme and will be renamed Mandarin Plaza.
Avalon Park developer Beat Kahli has agreed to buy International Corporate Park for $32 million. The park, so far undeveloped, has zoning approval for 20 million square feet of industrial use.
Lexmark International is closing its Orlando customer service center, eliminating nearly 400 jobs, and outsourcing its customer service operation.
Jim Atchison, 36, has been promoted from vice president of marketing to general manager of SeaWorld Orlando. Atchison replaces Keith Kasen, who has taken over as president and chairman of SeaWorld's corporate parent, St. Louis-based Busch Entertainment.
OSCEOLA -- Lowe's will build a distribution center at Poinciana Industrial Park, bringing with it 600 jobs. The $73-million center is the first in the state and will supply stores in Florida and Georgia.
Walt Disney World announced a hiring freeze among permanent jobs and slashed the hours of many of its workers. Some part-timers saw their hours cut to zero, and full-time workers had their schedules trimmed from 40 hours a week to 30. The cutbacks came a week after Disney CEO Michael Eisner was granted a $5-million bonus.
WHAT, NO INDOOR DRIVING RANGE?
WINDERMERE -- Timeshare magnate David Siegel is planning a new lakefront home that will encompass more than 88,000 square feet. The 15-bedroom house will have at least 18 bathrooms, an indoor ice-skating rink with a Zamboni machine, two bowling lanes and a children's playroom complete with a stage for live performances -- plus a pool, library, theater, spa and 1,000-sq.-ft. kitchen. The foyer alone will be 6,700 square feet. The estate will be built on a 10-acre Lake Butler site Siegel bought two years ago for $5.5 million.
ORLANDO -- Randy Lyon, who as president and CEO of Lake Nona Property Holdings supervised the development of Lake Nona for nearly 11 years, has joined the Ginn Co. as chief executive of the central Florida division. Ginn is developing a variety of residential and industrial projects around the state, including Reunion Resort & Club in northwest Osceola County.