State pushes for more rural trauma centers

Phoenix, AZ – State health officials are trying to convince rural hospitals to
become trauma centers -- and not just because it will save lives.
Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer explains.

Level 1 trauma centers are staffed and equipped to deal with the
most serious injury cases. But with one exception in Flagstaff,
all are located in the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas, even
though 60 percent of injuries occur in rural areas. Deputy state
health director Will Humble said he's not expecting rural
hospitals to spend the money to achieve that status. But he said
they could be Level 4 centers and become efficient at
resuscitating and stabilizing patients.

(So the patients come into your facility in critical condition.
You're able to stablize them so they can be transferred, usually
by ground ambulace, and arrive at a Level 1 trauma center in
stable condition rather than critical condition.)

There are expenses like staff training to converting emergency
rooms to trauma centers. And since the state can't mandate
hospitals to make that change. Humble said he has been selling it
as a way to make money.

(We're able to show them how many patients that were injured near
their hospital left and were treated down in Phoenix and which of
those actually could have been treated at their hospital had they
made the investment to become part of the trauma system.)

And Humble said insurance companies pay more for services at a
Level 4 trauma center than in a standard emergency room.

For Arizona Public Radio, this is Howard Fischer.