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Georgia needs more trauma centers

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By Christian Jennings - bio | email

February 2, 2009

THOMASVILLE, GA (WALB) - Archbold Hospital in Thomasville is the only certified trauma center in South Georgia. In fact, there are only 14 in the whole state.

And the Medical Association of Georgia says that leaves patients in serious jeopardy when it comes to trauma care.

So they are rallying behind three pieces of legislation that would create additional funding for more trauma care centers.

Each time you get behind the wheel of a car, you put yourself at risk.

Unfortunately, if you're in a car crash tomorrow and need immediate surgery, your chance of survival may depend on WHERE you live in Georgia.

"If you draw a line between Columbus, Macon, and Savannah, we're the only designated trauma center south of Macon," said Trauma Coordinator Kelli Vaughn.

And with only 14 trauma care centers in Georgia, it's estimated that some 700 people lose their lives every year

"There are studies that show that we are losing lives more than the national average per year in the state of Georgia," said Vaughn.

20% more than the national average, in fact. This week, the Medical Association of Georgia endorsed three legislative measures, in hopes of changing that statistic. "Truly it does come down to funding."

And their proposing the funding come from your pocket.

Governor Sonny Perdue's "Super Speeder" legislation calls for an increase in speeding fines.

A Forsyth lawmaker proposes a fee on telephone services and wireless devices, while Representative Austin Scott of Tifton wants a $10 fee on automobile tags. All designed to generate money for trauma care.

"You've got to have that funding source unfortunately. And every year in the state there are other issues that come up that are deemed more important than trauma."

Archbold Memorial hospital is the only trauma care center in southwest Georgia.

They say any assistance in the area is needed and welcomed.

"If any hospitals want to jump on board, I mean it's all about bettering the system in the state and doing what's best for the patients and transporting them to the right place at the right time," said Vaughn.

Trauma care is one of the Medical Association of Georgia's top legislative priorities for 2009.

But will change come soon enough, before more lives are lost? Other top legislative priorities this year for the Medical Association of Georgia are insurance reform and Medicaid funding.

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