KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Rural California Plans New Trauma Centers

The centers are designed to avoid expensive and often time-consuming patient transfers. Meanwhile, telemedicine bolsters intensive care services in rural Maryland, and a hospital system in Camden, N.J. overhauls the way it cares for the poorest and sickest patients.

The California Health Report: New Trauma Centers For Rural Counties
In rural California, traumatic injuries often happen hours away from medical services. Rescuers scramble helicopters or ground ambulances to rush victims of car crashes, major accidents or violence to hospitals outside of the region. Occasionally, those expensive trips to life saving aid are waylaid by weather or traffic. It can take as long as three hours to get the injured to a trauma center, even by air. Access to centers along the north and central coasts and the East Sierra is most limited. Over the past two years, communities long without trauma centers began to fill the void – designating regional hospitals as resources for those suffering from traumatic injuries (Griffy, 2/12).

Kaiser Health News: Telemedicine Bolsters ICU Care In Rural Maryland Hospitals
A critical care doctor 125 miles away was monitoring the patient’s health via voice, video and high-speed data lines constantly streaming information about vital signs, medications, test results and X-rays, a telemedicine service known as Maryland eCare. The physician quickly verified that the patient had the deadly infection and arranged immediate transfer to another hospital with a surgeon who could remove the infected tissue (Rubin, 2/12).

Marketplace: Healthcare Teams 'Wrapped Around' Patients
When you strip away all the bells and whistles at the Cooper Advanced Care Center, you see a massive effort to make primary and specialty care for the poorest and sickest patients – who for years have cost hospitals money – as easy to get as just showing up at the ER, says the clinic's executive director, Kathy Stillo. "I think we are figuring out how to redo this whole thing, how to deliver this care in a much smarter and more efficient way," she says. Transforming the whole practice has taken a financial investment and a leap of faith (Gorenstein, 2/11).

Related, earlier KHN story: New Jersey Program Finds Alternatives for ER 'Super Users' (Campbell, 3/9/2009). 

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