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Florida hospitals stuck with long-term, costly ventilator care

TampaBay.com, August 15, 2011

Larry Brazil was a patient at University Community Hospital for almost three years. Tameka Campbell was at Tampa General Hospital for five years. Together, they had bills of nearly $11 million that no private or public insurance plan will cover. That pricey care did not cure them; it kept them breathing on ventilator machines. Brazil and Campbell could have been cared for at a fraction of the cost -- if Florida had the right kind of nursing facilities. State records indicate that fewer than two dozen nursing homes -- including three in the Tampa Bay area -- out of about 700 statewide care for ventilator patients. But some only care for children or patients who can likely be weaned off the machines. Only a handful take new patients, and their ranks are dwindling.