Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

May 4, 2013

Filling a void

IU Health opening 3 trauma centers.

Muncie — [Editor’s Note: This is part two of two stories looking at area access to trauma care. Yesterday, the Tribune examined how people with traumatic injuries are transported to treatment facilities and where gaps exist in the system. A story appearing in the April 14 edition began the discussion with how Indiana compares to other states and whether Howard County is a likely candidate for a trauma center.]

With a need for more trauma care in Indiana, IU Health System is preparing to open three trauma centers in areas of the state that are currently underserved.

IU Health plans to open Level 3 trauma centers in Muncie, Lafayette and Bloomington within the next year.

Indiana has nine facilities, either Level 1 or 2, located in Indianapolis, Evansville, Fort Wayne and South Bend.

A Level 3 trauma center does not have the full availability of specialists, but does have the resources for emergency resuscitation and intensive care surgery for many trauma cases.

Level 1 and 2 trauma centers have surgeons and staff in the areas of orthopedics, neurosurgery, trained trauma doctors and nurses on call around the clock.

The Indiana State Department of Health is indicating the state needs 13 or 14 trauma centers. The goal is to have a trauma center within 45 minutes of a patient being transported by ground.

Dr. Mark Saleem with IU Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie said the hospital is following the guidelines of the American College of Surgeons to be designated a trauma center.

A team from the American College of Surgeons will be in Muncie for a consultation in June.

“ACS will send a team to inspect our facilities,” Saleem said. “They will tell us what areas need to be improved. It’s a good idea to see ourselves as the ACS team views our facility. There will then be an official visit by the end of the year.”

Saleem said IU Health gap in services in the community and an opportunity to develop a Level 3 trauma center. He said the Muncie region, with a population of approximately 300,000, would not meet the requirements for a higher level facility.

“The administration recognized the need and started the process about two years ago,” he said. “We have made upgrades to our equipment and have added staff.”

Saleem is the medical director of the soon-to-be-opened trauma center and there is also a trauma program manager.

“We have been putting the building blocks in place,” he said. “We want to make sure that the hospital is meeting all the patient needs.”

Saleem said a Level 3 designation is appropriate for Muncie.

IU Health is working with the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health on a pre-set plan for the placement of the Level 3 trauma centers.

The goal is to get a patient with trauma injuries to the correct center as quickly as possible, Saleem said.

“Indiana is one of the few remaining states that doesn’t have a statewide trauma system,” he said. “We have the resources; it’s a matter of organization. The past experiences in other states shows that [for] patients with traumatic injuries ... the survival rate is greater.”

At one time, Howard Regional Hospital was in discussions to become affiliated with IU Health and during those discussions a LifeLine helicopter was stationed in Kokomo.

When those discussions ended, Howard Regional affiliated with Community Health Network. The helicopter was relocated from Kokomo to Muncie.

For more on this story and other local news, subscribe to The Kokomo Tribune eEdition, or our print edition

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