Methodist sees 62 trama patients in first month of designation - October 2, 2014

Courtesy of NWI Times

October 02, 2014 3:46 pm   •   Andrew Steele Times correspondent

MERRILLVILLE   |   Methodist Hospitals officials on Thursday shared with Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce members their excitement over their recent designation as an in-process Level III trauma.

“Our Northlake campus now becomes the state’s 16th trauma center and the very first in Northwest Indiana,” said Dr. Michael Davenport, Methodist president and interim CEO.

Methodist Northlake can accept trauma patients from a 45-minute transportation area. In September, the first full month of the designation, the hospital accepted 62 trauma patients, 27 from out of its regular service area, said trauma program coordinator Jennifer Mullen, a registered nurse.

Davenport noted that the area is home to many heavy industries, highways and urban areas.

“There is a critical and ongoing need for expert, easily accessible emergency care in Northwest Indiana,” he said.

Methodist is now working to move beyond the “in process” designation to become verified as a Level III center by the American College of Surgeons. That’s expected to take two years.

Level III trauma centers must have a surgeon available within 30 minutes of a trauma patient’s arrival. To ensure that, Methodist has built an “on-call suite” for surgeons to stay in while on duty.

The designation also requires “prompt assessment, resuscitation, emergency operations and stabilization” of injured patients, according to the American College of Surgeons, and also requires that the hospital have agreements in place to transfer patients to a Level I center if needed.

Mullen said such agreements have been made with hospitals in Chicago and Indianapolis.

Davenport said operating as a trauma center “will have a ripple effect that raises the level of care across the organization.”

Hospital officials hope that effect will help bring new patients to the hospital to help fund the creation and operation of the trauma center, something for which Indiana is one of few states that do not provide money for trauma centers.

Mullen said the state has gone from nine to 16 trauma centers in about a year, and doesn’t yet have a fully coordinated system in place. “We’re not all quite speaking the same language yet,” she said.

But, hospitals are collecting and sharing data in a statewide registry to help set baselines for care, Mullen said. “Data is incredibly important, especially at this stage of the game.”

Training at Methodist will be ongoing, and a review committee has been set up to monitor the care provided trauma patients, she said.

Trauma is the leading cause of death among Indiana residents 45 years old and younger, and the fifth leading cause of death for all age groups nationwide.

“That’s why it’s so important,” Mullen said.