Hospitals in and around the state of Arkansas met a July 1 deadline to request they be a part of the state's new trauma care system. Among them were Community Medical Center of Izard County in Calico Rock and Fulton County Hospital in Salem.
In the trauma care system, hospitals will be designated as level one, two, three and four trauma centers, with level one being the highest care of trauma services available.
In Arkansas, UAMS Medical Center and Arkansas Children's Hospital have both applied as level one, joined by St. John's Hospital as the only level one applicant in Missouri. Both Community Medical Center of Izard County and the Fulton County Hospital requested to be listed as level four trauma care centers.
Level four trauma care centers include basic emergency department facilities with an ability to provide advanced trauma life support prior to the transfer of patients to a higher level trauma center.
The new system, expected to cost $20 million the first year and $28 million thereafter, will be funded by a nearly $86 million tobacco tax increase that took effect March 1 of this year. Aside from the trauma system, the tax increase will also fund more than 20 other health related programs.
In a March 13 news conference, Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe made it clear that he supports the new trauma care system.
"Obviously, this (the trauma care system) goes a long way in trying to improve the health and welfare of our people, particularly those who are involved in traumatic injuries," Beebe said.
The new system is expected to cut down on travel time because it will include a call center. "The call center will actually be used by pre-hospital people, the paramedics in the field," said Arkansas Health Department Director, Dr. Paul Halverson. "When they recognize they have a severely injured patient, they can call the call center and be directed to the closest trauma center."
State Surgeon General Joe Thompson said the system should be completely operational within two years and that it will ultimately save on state health care costs, especially in long term rehabilitation, because patients will get to the correct hospital sooner and receive the trauma care they need more quickly.