State officials today said major steps had been taken toward the comprehensive trauma system envisioned in 2009 legislation with designation of trauma centers in Little Rock, Pine Bluff and Memphis.
I'm sure it's coincidental that Republicans have been griping recently about a lack of bricks-and-mortar proof of the wisdom of the cigarette tax increase passed to pay for the system. It's coincidental, too, I'd guess, that Gov. Beebe is lauded throughout the news release for the medical advancement.
The Health Department report:
Arkansas took a major step today toward establishment of a fully-functional, comprehensive trauma system for the state with the announcement of three new designated trauma centers. The three centers, the first of 73 that have indicated that they will be a part of the new system, are the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in Little Rock and the Regional Medical Center (“The MED”) in Memphis, both designated as Level I centers, and Jefferson Regional Medical Center in Pine Bluff, which will be a Level II center.
A total of $11,425,886.81 in grants has been awarded in the state for training and hospital and ambulance service upgrades since Act 393 of 2009, the Trauma System Act, outlined the model for the new system.
“Today begins a major step in providing Arkansans with a faster, better-coordinated response to traumatic injuries,” Governor Mike Beebe said. “Our statewide trauma system will save lives and improve emergency care for the victims of accidents. We are all working together for a healthier future for Arkansas.”
Traumatic injury is the leading cause of death for all Arkansans age 1-44. Until today, Arkansas had no designated trauma centers and is still one of only three states without a fully functioning trauma system.
Paul K. Halverson, DrPH, FACHE, state health officer and director of the Arkansas Department of Health, said that a study of medical costs shows that the state will save $193 million a year, as well. “The monetary and human costs of traumatic injury are staggering in our state, and they are growing with every year,” Halverson said. “A statewide system will help us reduce the effects of injury on the state’s overall health problems.”
According to Halverson, the state’s trauma system will be at least partially functional at the
beginning of the year. “We have begun work on so many of the pieces, and they are beginning to come together now—we have made excellent progress in the last year, and we are well on our way.”
Halverson said that the comprehensive system has six major components: solid injury prevention programs, a call center, an ambulance and EMS program, the trauma centers, a registry to track injury from beginning to end and rehabilitation for those who need care following an injury, short- or long-term.
“All of these moving parts need to be well coordinated, so that someone who is seriously injured has the best possible chance for survival or a good recovery,” Halverson said. “We have made the most significant strides on the trauma centers and the Emergency Medical System (EMS) components, but I am glad to report that we have made good progress on all the parts of our new system.”
“Our EMS personnel, the first responders, serve a critical role in getting injured patients to the right hospital as efficiently as possible,” Halverson said. “What happens during the first hour after an accident, the so-called ‘Golden Hour,’ means everything to an injured patient. It is very often the difference in life or death, and has a very meaningful part to play in a patient’s chances for a good quality of life in the future. A strong system approach can shorten the time it takes to get treatment, improve the care, and enhance the outcomes for Arkansans who are injured once our system is fully operational.”
Dr. Reginald W. Coopwood, president and CEO of Regional Medical Center at Memphis, said, “The MED is pleased to be among the first facilities designated as a Level I trauma Center for Arkansas. We are excited about this new partnership and remain committed to providing quality healthcare services to the residents of eastern Arkansas. The Elvis Presley Memorial Trauma Center has provided clinical leadership in the provision of trauma care for more than 25 years in the Mid-South region. We applaud and appreciate Governor Beebe’s leadership in establishing a trauma network for the citizens of Arkansas.”
In all, there are 86 hospitals in Arkansas that could eventually become a part of the new trauma system. Of those, 73 have already begun the process by filing letters of intent to request designation as one of the four levels set out in Arkansas’s trauma system:
• Level I — comprehensive clinical care and community resource (education, research and outreach)
• Level II — comprehensive clinical care
• Level III — treatment of mild and moderate single system injuries
• Level IV — stabilization and transfer
Jefferson Regional Medical Center in Pine Bluff, has been designated as a Level II trauma center. Walter E. Johnson, President and CEO, said, “We at Jefferson Regional Medical Center realize how important the trauma system is to Arkansans. We were active from the beginning with physicians and administration serving on committees to ensure its passage. We are pleased to be a part of a program that will greatly enhance the health and well-being of patients all across our state.”
“I want to thank Governor Beebe, the legislature, Dr. Halverson and the Health Department, the Governor’s Advisory Council on Trauma, Dr. Joe Thompson, the state surgeon general; Dr. Maxson, Dr. Graham and others across the state for understanding the need for a coordinated statewide trauma system,” said Dr. Dan Rahn, UAMS chancellor. “This system will save lives by getting injured patients to the level of care they need more quickly. As the state’s only academic medical center and tertiary care center, UAMS has operated for years as a Level I and is pleased to be the first center in Arkansas to receive this state designation.”
For more information about the trauma system in Arkansas, visit www.healthy.arkansas.gov or call the Arkansas Department of Health at 501-683-0707.