Gary hospital celebrates trauma status - September 9, 2014

Courtesy of NWI Times

September 09, 2014 12:00 am   •   Vanessa Renderman vanessa.renderman@nwi.com, (219) 933-3244

GARY  |  Hospital officials and community leaders on Monday celebrated Methodist Hospitals Northlake campus’ designation as an in-process Level III trauma center, with some calling for the hospital to pursue an even higher level of care.

The Indiana EMS Commission last month approved the state health commissioner’s recommendation to grant the hospital the in-process designation.

It means the hospital can treat the Region’s sickest patients while it pursues a full Level III designation, a label the American College of Surgeons bestows, within two years.

“If they’re not able to do that, they lose this designation,” said Art Logsdon, assistant commissioner for the state health and human services commission.

The in-process Level III designation is “huge deal” for Northwest Indiana, Logsdon said.

“Until this time, you had a part of this state from the Illinois border all the way to South Bend, and from the Michigan border all the way to Lafayette, with no trauma center,” he said. “EMS providers had nowhere to take the most seriously injured patients, other than to Indianapolis, to South Bend, to Chicago.”

A Level III designation is the lowest tier of care for trauma centers. Level I is the most advanced level.

Level III centers require general surgeons to be on staff and can provide “prompt assessment, resuscitation, emergency operations and stabilization and also arrange for possible transfer to a facility that can provide definitive trauma care,” according to the American College of Surgeons.

State Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, said he has been trying since 1984 to get a trauma center in Gary. Monday, he urged hospital officials to pursue a higher tier of care.

“I encourage and pray Methodist will not stop there, and we will move on to a Level II trauma center,” he said.

Brown referenced a feasibility study report that officially will be presented to the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority later this month. The study gauged the need for a trauma center and academic medical center in Northwest Indiana.

The findings show the Region could not support building a Level I trauma center, but they indicated Methodist could reach Level I status with some renovations, Brown said.

Methodist Hospital has been long known as the premier provider of emergency care in the area, said Dr. Michael Davenport, president and interim CEO of Methodist Hospitals.

Need for trauma care cited in Region

Positioned close to heavy industry, major transportation, mass transit lines and major urban areas, there is a critical need for expert emergency services, he said.

“People hear that you’re doing trauma, they think that means you must be special,” Davenport said. “Because if you can take care of folks that are that sick, you can take care of everybody else. That’s exactly what we do.”

Transporting a patient to a trauma center reduces their chance of mortality by up to 30 percent, said Mamon Powers Jr., chairman of Methodist Hospitals Board of Directors.

Dr. Reuben Rutland, trauma medical director for Methodist Hospitals, said trauma ranges from car accidents and steel mill injuries to urban assault and domestic violence.

“Methodist has always done trauma, and they’ve always done trauma well,” he said. The Level III designation means Methodist has made a regional commitment, he said.

“We know every trauma patient cannot be brought here,” Rutland said. “We will teach nurses at other hospitals how to take care of their trauma patients. We are taking the lead here at Methodist.”

Patrick Bankston, associate dean at Indiana University School of Medicine Northwest and dean of the College of Health and Human Services at IUN, said this is a great day for patients in Northwest Indiana who may need Level III trauma center services.

“We also look forward to having our students study up here among the best doctors in Northwest Indiana for emergency medicine,” he said.

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson thanked hospital officials for prioritizing the citizens’ health, both trauma and otherwise.