Trauma center need in North Indiana remains strong 

Apr 10

By Carmen McCollum -, (219) 662-5337

GARY | The need for a trauma center in Northwest Indiana remains high, the chief medical director of emergency medicine at Methodist Hospitals said Friday.

"I remain optimistic that it will come. Funding remains an issue," Dr. Michael McGee said.

The doctor delivered a presentation on violence and trauma to dozens of students and faculty at Indiana University Northwest.

He said there are seven trauma centers in the state but none in Northwest Indiana where emergency rooms, particularly Methodist Hospital Northlake in Gary, see a significant number of trauma victims with some sort of penetrating trauma such as a gunshot wound or stabbing.

Pat Bankston, assistant dean and director of the IU Northwest medical school, reiterated that money is the only stumbling block.

"The university is very interested in working with Dr. McGee to collaborate on a new hospital in this area that would serve the needs of the city of Gary and the surrounding community," he said Friday, minutes after McGee spoke.

"I know that Rep. Charlie Brown is still working on it. I know he's very interested in it. But with everything that is going on at the state level in terms of the cuts and the economic situation, I don't know when it will happen," Bankston said.

McGee said the governor created the Indiana State Trauma Care Committee in November, however, appointments to that committee are still in progress.

Meanwhile, McGee talked about his personal experiences treating victims of violence in the emergency room. He focused on a study he conducted at Methodist Hospital Northlake as well as talking about national statistics on teen violence.

McGee said local newspapers reported about 71 murders in 2006 in Gary. He said an economic decline is directly related to rising crime rates.

McGee showed graphic photos which captured gunshot victims who had been treated at Methodist Hospital's Northlake emergency room.

He recounted an Aug. 9 case of multiple victims who had been shot at Bennigan's Restaurant in Gary causing the hospital to activate a disaster alert. He said all but one of seven victims drove themselves to the emergency room, overwhelming the staff. Eventually, all of the patients were treated and released.

McGee said five people were shot Jan. 1, 2007, and another five people were shot Nov. 18, 2007, both incidents illustrating the need for a trauma center.

Nationally, youth violence is prevalent among young people between the ages of 10 to 24, McGee said. According to National Youth Violence data, 86 percent of those involved in violence were male.

He said there are several risk factors which contribute to violence including little or no parent involvement, attention deficit disorder and being involved with a gang. He said being poor also can cause a young person to succumb to violence.

"We have an unforgiving society," McGee said. "People don't just get into fights. They got get a gun or a knife. Intervention must come sooner to help young people."

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