Legislators report Georgia's trauma care system in 'crisis'
January 5, 2007
Thomasville-- Georgia has one of the worst trauma systems in the nation according to experts. A legislative committee looked into the issue and agreed. The state only has 15 hospitals that are designated trauma care facilities. The legislative report says these centers need more funding, and financial incentives for more hospitals to come on board.
Wrecks, serious falls, gun shot wounds are all traumas. And trauma is the leading cause of death in patients from 6 months to 40 years old.
"Having these designated trauma centers within minutes or at least a half an hour away from every point in the state, is how you save them, you develop a network" said Dr. Greg Patterson, Archbold Hospital's Trauma Health Director.
But right now the state only has fifteen certified trauma centers. Archbold Memorial Hospital in Thomasville is the only one south of Macon. "It hurts the patients who are outside the direct area here," said Patterson.
Other hospitals also care for traumas. But its only the designated ones that are guaranteed to be able to take a trauma case, at any time. "When you roll in the door you're gonna have a team ready that's worked together that knows what they're doing to deliver the best care for the patient," said Kelli Vaughn, Archbold's Trauma Coordinator.
So why aren't more hospitals trauma certified? "The issues with a lot of facilities is it's a big cost to be a trauma center. You're taking on patients that may or may not have the ability to pay," said Vaughn.
Right now the only state funding for all fifteen centers is a $750,000 grant. That means the hospital has to pick up the tab on a lot of the costs.
The legislative report wants to make up for about 85 million in uncompensated trauma care by adding a five dollar tax on vehicle tags, or a one dollar monthly fee on cell phone bills. Legislators are hoping if hospitals have that extra incentive, they'll get on board and get trauma certified.
Experts say around 30 or 40 trauma centers are needed in Georgia to have a successful system.