Southern Illinois Healthcare seeks trauma center status
CARBONDALE, Ill. (AP) — Southern Illinois Healthcare is taking steps to expand access to trauma care in the southern part of the state where the lack of trauma centers can add stress, cost and risk for those needing immediate attention.
SIH Memorial Hospital has applied to the Illinois Department of Public Health for Level II Trauma Center designation, The Southern Illinoisan reported.
The designation is important because the hospital doesn't have a trauma center and the closest are in St. Louis and Evansville, Indiana, said Dr. Eduardo Smith Singares, who joined Memorial Hospital as its trauma medical director in May last year. St. Louis and Evansville are each about 100 miles (160 kilometers) from Carbondale by road.
"If you get injured here, and what we call your 'golden hour' starts ticking, your best bet is to get transported by helicopter to one of these places. Each one of them is over an hour away," Smith Singares said.
Longer transport times directly decrease the rate of survival, since travel time can eat into the "golden hour," which is the period following an injury during which medical treatment and surgery has the best chance of preventing death, he said.
Transporting patients to a trauma center also adds a huge financial burden for families, who may have to pay up to $60,000 for helicopter transport, in addition to the cost of hotels to stay in another city, Smith Singares said.
"This is an unmitigated calamity," he said. "We're all about to change that."
Hospitals seeking the Level II designation are required to have certain services available 24 hours a day, while other services must be made available within 30 minutes. Memorial Hospital has 24-hour offerings in traditional trauma surgery, emergency general surgery and critical care services for surgical patients in the intensive care unit.
Hospitals must also be able to access air medical transport. Arch Air Medical Service recently opened a base at the Southern Illinois Airport.
Information from: Southern Illinoisan, http://www.southernillinoisan.com