The long-sought trauma center to treat seriously injured patients in the Southeast Valley opened this week.
Chandler Regional Medical Center opened the Valley’s first Level I trauma center outside a cluster in Phoenix and Scottsdale.
“This is significant to have a Level I trauma center in the East Valley,” said EMS Capt. Suzy Vargo of the Chandler Fire Department. “For the growth we’ve seen in this region, we needed this. We’ve been waiting a long time for this in the East Valley.”
Chandler Regional expects to see more than 1,200 trauma patients annually. There were 42 “trauma activations” — incidents involving trauma but not necessarily major cases — reported to Chandler Regional Medical Center between March 24 and 27, according to Julie Graham, director of public relations, marketing and communications.
Previously, those patients were transported to either Phoenix or Scottsdale, often missing out on care during the “golden hour,” the first hour post-injury.
“Fifty-eight percent of trauma victims in the Southeast Valley weren’t getting treatment within the golden hour because it took so long to get them to a trauma center,” said Forrest “Dell” Moore, trauma medical director at Chandler Regional. “That changes dramatically in the patients’ favor now.”
Vargo estimated patients’ transport time will at least be cut in half, depending on multiple factors like traffic and location. Chandler Regional also will serve parts of Pinal County, where 10 percent of trauma victims previously received Level I care within the “golden hour,” according to the hospital.
Level I is the highest designation for a trauma center. Under the designation, the hospital is required to be prepared at all times with medical specialist in multiple fields and equipment to immediately treat serious trauma injuries. Those specialists who must be on hand or on-call 24 hours a day include anesthesiologists, emergency physicians, hand surgeons, neurosurgeons, orthopedic surgeons, plastic surgeons and trauma critical care surgeons.
Trauma doctors at Chandler Regional conducted 50 mock trauma situations in the past month in preparation for Monday’s opening.
It is the first new, non-pediatric Level I trauma center in the Valley since the state started designating them about eight years ago.
The Chandler Regional trauma center originally was schedule to open last year but was pushed back, Moore said, until after flu season for an already busy hospital.
“Things get delayed all the time,” Vargo said, “but we hoped they wouldn’t give up on it.”
Chandler Region will open a new tower later this year with 96 beds, expanded the emergency department and increased operating room capacity.
“The additional beds in our new tower will allow us to admit patients we have treated in our emergency department and continue to care for them through recovery and discharge,” said Tim Bricker, Chandler Regional president and CEO. “Not only will the care be seamless and continuous, but family and loved ones of Southeast Valley residents who suffer traumatic injuries will be able to visit and support patients a little closer to home.”
Statewide there are five Level I trauma centers in Phoenix and one each on Scottsdale, Tucson and Flagstaff.
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