Local hospital now part of trauma system
Russellville Hospital is now part of a trauma care system that could become a model for other health care providers nationwide.
The Alabama Department of Public Health announced Friday that 10 north Alabama counties have been added to the state's new system that coordinates trauma care.
Colbert, Cullman, Franklin, Jackson, Lawrence, Lauderdale, Limestone, Madison, Marshall and Morgan counties make up the North Alabama Trauma System. The north Alabama system will connect with the Birmingham Regional Emergency Medical Service System that serves Blount, Chilton, Jefferson, Shelby, St. Clair, Walker and Winston counties in north central Alabama.
The region was plugged into the state's new Trauma Communication Center on Feb. 25, officials said.
The center monitors the status of hospitals to ensure trauma victims are transported to emergency rooms best suited for their care. The system allows emergency responders to get patients to the right hospital as quickly as possible.
Trauma dispatchers get a live computer update every 90 seconds from each participating hospital. If there was a car wreck, for example, on Alabama 24 or U.S. 43, the system would tell what hospitals had the necessary personnel, operating rooms and equipment available for that patient's needs.
Belinda Johnson, chief clinical officer for Russellville Hospital, said the system will allow hospitals to identify other facilities that would suit a patient's needs better and help get them moved more quickly.
"If someone needs to be transferred, since we are a part of it, we will be able to get them moved a lot more quickly," Johnson said.
The Alabama Legislature approved the expansion of the statewide trauma system in 2007.
"With the addition of North Alabama to the Birmingham region's trauma system, seamless trauma system coverage will be provided to nearly half of the citizens in Alabama, with plans to extend this system statewide in 18 months," State Health Officer Dr. Donald Williamson said.
"Alabama will have the first statewide system of this type in the United States and it will serve as a model for the nation."
Trauma is the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 45. Almost 80 percent of Alabama's trauma cases are caused by motor vehicle crashes, and Alabama has the fourth highest per capita highway trauma death rate in the U.S.
"Every second counts when it comes to treating those with traumatic injuries," Gov. Bob Riley said. "This coordinated system will ensure that no time is wasted in getting these patients the urgent medical care they need. Lives will be saved, so this is obviously an important accomplishment."
Hospitals participating in the trauma system and their trauma levels are Huntsville Hospital – Level 1; Decatur General Hospital – Level 2; Athens-Limestone Hospital- Level 3; Crestwood Medical Center – Level 3; Cullman Regional Medical Center – Level 3; Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital – Level 3; Marshall Medical Center North – Level 3; Marshall Medical Center South- Level 3; Parkway Medical Center – Level 3; Russellville Hospital – Level 3.