Rush seeks $100M for trauma centers in violent neighborhoods - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Rush seeks $100M for trauma centers in violent neighborhoods

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Illinois Congressman Bobby Rush is introducing legislation seeking money to build hospital trauma centers in places like Chicago's South Side.

Rush says the proposed Trauma Act would get federal money for Level One trauma centers in areas where gunshot wound patients are numerous.

Dr. William Dorsey of Jackson Park Hospital on the South Side says his emergency room sees 25,000 patients a year. Because it's a community hospital, it doesn't handle patients with gunshot wounds. The nearest trauma center that can provide the care for critically injured patients is miles away.

Dorsey says travel times to trauma centers must be reduced.

Studies have shown gunshot patients who are more than five miles from a Level One trauma hospital have a higher mortality rate than those with shorter travel times.

It comes down to communication among hospitals and paramedics, but the goal in every trauma case is to get the injured person -- whether it's a shooting or a car wreck -- to the nearest trauma center as quickly as possible. A lot of factors weigh into those decisions.

For doctors in the Cook County Trauma Unit, 30 percent of the patients they see are gunshot victims.

"On average, the Cook County Trauma Unit treats about 5,500 patients per year, so it is a very active unit," Cook County Health System Spokeswoman Marisa Kollias says. "A busy night can be anywhere from I'd say 20 to 40 patients."

Chicago Fire Department paramedics and their counterparts with private ambulance companies coordinate with what's known as the Resource Hospital -- usually Stroger Hospital -- to determine where to take those most critically injured patients.

"We identify at the scene, where the closest hospital is and that's based on traffic patterns, it can be based on hospital being overwhelmed and we don't want to go there, so we let them know what our closest available hospital is and what our ETA would be to them," CFD Medical Administration Manager Leslee Stein-Spencer explains.

For example, for a victim shot at 6400 South Loomis in the Englewood neighborhood might have three choices. Going to Cook County at 7 p.m. tonight would take an estimated 20 minutes.

Mt. Sinai would take 23 minutes in the same traffic, which means that an ambulance would probably be directed to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn -- an estimated 18 minutes away. But lights and sirens usually cut that time down.

"In Chicago, our trauma centers are usually no longer than 7 minutes away at the longest, which is a really good response time," Stein-Spencer says. "There are parts of the state that are 20 minutes to a trauma center."

Traumas, of course are not limited to gunshot wounds. Stabbings, beatings, car accidents, or industrial accidents all might qualify, but it depends on the extent of the injury.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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