Trauma funding may get another shot

By Christy Hutchings - bio | email

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Hospital trauma centers are steps above the average emergency room. If you're badly hurt you stand much better chance of surviving if you can get to one, but did you know that there are only four in the entire state, leaving many in desperate need.

But a new measure could be put on the 2012 ballot that would change that, and without costing tax payers a dime.

There's never a dull moment in the emergency room at Memorial Univesrity Medical Center. They treat more than 2,000 trauma patients a year, but the funds are running out. "Trauma care centers are hurting," said Elaine Frantz, director of Trauma Services at Memorial Health.

Last November voters had the option to pass a measure that would take the burden off trauma centers. It would have cost voters a $10 fee that they would pay when they renewed their car tag.  The measure failed but supporters aren't giving up.

"We will continue to fight the fight to get funding for trauma care," said Frantz.

In 2012 voters will be asked again if they're in support of a trauma trust fund, but this time it won't cost them a dime. "What it would do is take $10 from the registration fee, so if you pay $200, $10 of that would go to a dedicated fund for trauma care only," said Frantz.

Frantz says that money could go a long way. Helping outer area hospitals in our region become certified trauma centers, meaning they can treat most injuries which would cut down on the number of people coming to Memorial. However, without this measure that may not be possible."There are quite a few level three centers, I think what they will say if there's not funding we cannot provide that level of care," said Frantz.

Which in the end, will strain the only four level one trauma centers in the state. "We need the funding. It's tough. It's very difficult to do that year after year after year with uncompensated care and that's evident but we do it," Frantz told WTOC.

While this measure didn't pass state wide it had a lot of support in our region. Of the fifteen counties state wide that approved the measure eight were right here in our area, and it passed by a significant margin in Chatham County.

Frantz feels if they had more time they could have reached out to more people and the measure would have passed. She's hopeful the voters will see the need in 2012.

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