ORANGE PARK, Fla. -- James Sadler, 17, was left clinging to life after a wreck on San Jose Boulevard left him with a broken neck, punctured lungs, and a severe brain injury last April.
Sadler spent the next 30 days in the trauma unit at Orange Park Medical Center.
Ten months later he's alive and well, and his father credits the closest hospital.
"If he would have had to be transported as far as Shands medical center, he would not had made it," says his father, also named James.
That's why Sadler was devastated to learn that the level two trauma unit at Orange Park was shut down Thursday.
The unit was granted a provisional license in 2011, and has since spent more than $30 million to expand. At the time the license was approved, OPMC met all of the states requirements, but in November, state standards changed.
On Thursday, the Department of Health denied its application to continue operations citing, four areas of deficiency including emergency department, acute rehabilitative services, psychosocial support systems and quality management.
While the emergency room and hospital continues to treat patients, local ambulance services and area hospitals have been directed to immediately begin transporting all trauma patients to UF and Shands Jacksonville, which is nearly 30 minutes away from Orange Park.
"That is an inconvenience for patients, their families and everyone involved," says Dr. Kerry Rifkin, President of the Clay County Medical Society.
Rifkin says he's very interested to learn the details of the state's findings.
"Those categories seem to involve administrative problems, paperwork problems, and as far as I know that quality and level of care here has been excellent."
The unit claims a 95 percent survival rate among the 1,000 patients who've been treated for trauma injuries since 2011. Dr. Rifkin says the effort to save lives is clear.
"If the community hospital makes a great effort to develop its services and make them a level of excellence, the community is going to benefit, and that's what this place did. Having that slapped away is probably not a good thing for this community."
James Sadler's father agrees. He calls the move devastating and hopes the decision will soon be reversed.
"They would be making a tremendously bad decision if Orange Park trauma unit was shut down."
In a statment to Action News, the Orange Park Medical Center says it plans to appeal the states decision within the next 21 days. It goes on to say, in part: "We are very disappointed and surprised that we received notification from the Department of Health denying our provisional status ... This decision impacts not just the hospital community, but it will negatively impact the lives of all those in the Orange Park area."
Orange Park Medical Center is one of four trauma centers in Florida affected by changes in the states ruling in November. On Friday, the Department of Health will hold a workshop in Jacksonville to discuss this and other trauma care issues across the state. Local doctors, first responders and former patients are scheduled to speak in support of continued operations in Orange Park.