Phoebe Putney applies for trauma center status

Phoebe Putney applies for trauma center status

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital leaders want to join hospitals in Columbus and Thomasville as level II trauma centers.

This journey represents a major commitment by Phoebe to the people of Southwest Georgia and involves an anticipated investment of more than $5.8M over the next five years. We strongly believe a designated trauma center is needed in Albany, and it has long been a goal of Phoebe to join Georgia’s trauma care network.  After a great deal of long-term planning and preparation, we are convinced now is the right time to pursue this designation.
Joel Wernick, Phoebe president and CEO

At Wednesday’s monthly board meeting, Phoebe board members took their first steps in getting a trauma center.

Phoebe board members discussed the need for a trauma center. Doctors spoke about the amount of trauma victims the hospital sees every year. With a center, Phoebe will soon be able to treat those patients.

“When you combine the natural disaster that we have seen recently combined with motor vehicle accidents on top of sporting, hunting and farming accidents, we see a fairly robust amount of trauma,” said Dr. James Black, Phoebe emergency department’s medical director.

For the next twelve months, Black said, data from the amount of trauma cases Phoebe sees now will be collected.

A trauma center would mean for jobs for Phoebe, according to Black.

“There will be a lot of people working behind the scenes that have to collect data and correlate and people to manage the program. So, absolutely there will be some new job that will be created here at the hospital,” he added.

Said Black: “A lot of research shows that patients in general as well as trauma patients in particular when they go to a designated trauma center verses a non-designated trauma center they’re linked to stay shorter, car is better an you know what to expect."

Its board of directors said Wednesday that the hospital is tearing down some old dilapidated structures it owns and beginning work on a helipad. This will allow helicopters carrying injured patients to land on the hospital’s campus instead of having to land in a field a block away.

The helipad will eliminate some parking spots, but more parking will be provided where some old building will be razed.

The helipad project alone is an investment of more than a million dollars in our patients.  We believe it will bolster our efforts to achieve trauma center designation by easing congestion and improving the transport of emergency patients.  Currently, helicopters transporting patients must land in a field a block away.  The new helipad will increase speed and efficiency in cases where seconds truly can make a difference.
Jeff Flowers, Phoebe senior vice president for operations

Black said the landing pad will take a year to complete.

Phoebe’s statement said that trauma is the leading cause of death for Americans ages 1 to 44 and the further away from a trauma center a patient is, the worse their chances of survival are.

Said Black: “A lot of research shows that patients in general as well as trauma patients in particular when they go to a designated trauma center verses a non-designated trauma center they’re linked to stay shorter, car is better an you know what to expect."

There are only 10 level II and five level I designated trauma centers in Georgia, and only one level II center in the region served by Phoebe.

Phoebe will invest almost $6 million over the next five years on the trauma center.

The hospital will quickly move to seek trauma center designation and the approval process should take 18 to 24 months, the statement said.

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