Chandler Regional Medical Center, owned by Dignity Health, announced it will be seeking a Level 1 trauma designation from the Arizona Department of Health Services.
"In Phoenix, it’s not a shortage of Level I trauma centers, it’s how they’re distributed," said Dr. Brian Tiffany, chief of medical staff for Chandler Regional and Mercy Gilbert medical centers.
Chandler Regional will try to obtain a Level I designation, which would mean that it could take the most severely injured patients, said Dr. Brian Tiffany.
"We anticipate treating roughly 1,500 patients a year," Tiffany said, based off of statistics from the National Trauma Registry System.
Mercy Gilbert will also seek Level III trauma designation, joining three other hospitals in the state with provisional status.
Most East Valley severely injured patients are sent to Scottsdale Osborn Medical Center, in Scottsdale, or Maricopa Medical Center, in downtown Phoenix, Tiffany said. Children and neurological patients are often taken to Phoenix Children’s Hospital and Barrow Neurological Institute.
"There’s this thing called the ‘golden hour,’" Tiffany said. During the golden hour, the majority of critically injured trauma patients’ lives can be saved if they can receive necessary treatment.
Three of the Valley’s six Level I centers are within a three mile radius in downtown Phoenix, Tiffany said. There is only one in Flagstaff and another in Tucson.
"Those folks (from the East Valley) spend a lot of time getting transported to treatment, not getting treatment," Tiffany said. "Gilbert to downtown (Phoenix) is a long drive, not just for the patient, but for the EMS community on the drive back. It strains East Valley EMS resources."
Having a trauma center in the East Valley will make it faster for residents to receive medical attention and return EMS personnel to their service areas quicker.
For Gilbert Mercy, a Level III trauma center would mean that it would provide assessment, resuscitation, stabilization and emergency surgery, as well as arrange transportation to a Level I or II trauma center.
Tiffany believes that the hospitals will receive provisional trauma status by next July.
"We can begin taking trauma patients once we have provisional status," he said.
After conducting surveys and collecting data, the medical centers should be certified within a year or a year and a half, Tiffany said.
"We expect to receive the official designation during the summer of 2014, before our new 96-bed tower opens in late 2014," said Tim Bricker, president and CEO of Chandler Regional and Mercy Gilbert medical centers, in a press release.
The Chandler Regional trauma surgeons will specialize in orthopedics, neurosurgery, cardiac surgery, thoracic surgery, hand surgery, vascular surgery, plastic surgery, obstetric and gynecologic surgery, ophthalmology, otolaryngology and urology.
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