Orange Park Medical Center has earned their spot as a permanent Level II trauma center. The news comes after Governor Rick Scott signed a bill changing a longstanding state law capping the number of trauma centers allowed in the state. The bill changes the number of trauma service areas from 19 to 18 and allowing up to five centers, including Level I, Level II, Level II/pediatric and stand-alone pediatric trauma center in each area.

Orange Park Medical Center began treating trauma patients in May of 2016. Since that time they have treated nearly 3,000 patients, most of which previously had to travel to downtown Jacksonville for trauma-related injuries.

"Time is life," said Dr. Miren Schinco, Trauma Medical Director at Orange Park Medical Center. "Having a trauma center close to you at all times is critical to survival when you're experiencing a severe injury."

The Bryan family experienced this first-hand when their daughter Caleigh's arm was saved by the Orange Park Medical Center trauma team after an auto accident. "When the phone rang at 12:30 in the morning and it was a police officer our worst nightmare came true," said Elaine Bryan, 17-year-old Caleigh's mother.

The Bryans, having recently moved to Florida, were unfamiliar with area hospitals. When asked by EMS which hospital to take their daughter to, they were unsure. "We told them, the closest, the best, what do you suggest, and they said Orange Park."

Looking back Caleigh said "I didn't know what was going to happen next. I didn't know if I was going to have my arm next week, but having someone there to comfort me and tell me that we're going to make it through this together really made a difference."

Schinco said that having the proximity of this trauma center to the accident was vital to Caleigh's success. Having access to an operating room 24-hours a day, Caleigh was able to get into surgery quickly with the hand surgeon she needed.

A Level II trauma center provides 24-hour immediate access to a dedicated operating room for trauma patients and specially-trained surgeons, specialists and staff to treat critically-injured patients like Caleigh.

"We're grateful that our elected officials recognize how critical trauma care is to our community," said Dr. Jeffrey Levine, Trauma Surgeon and former Trauma Medical Director at Orange Park Medical Center. "Their support, in addition to that of the local fire and rescue teams, has helped make this a reality for our community."

The news comes just one week before the hospital launches their Stop the Bleed Program, which helps educate community residents on how they can help stop uncontrolled bleeding until emergency responders arrive. The program will be kicked off Friday, March 30 at an event where community leaders will receive training and will be followed by free monthly classes open to the community.