‘Golden Hour’

Level I Trauma Center opens in Chandler Regional

Published April 5, 2014 in SanTan Sun News

After planning for more than a year, Chandler Regional Medical Center received provisional status as a Level I Trauma Center from the Arizona Department of Health Services. It began taking patients on Monday, March 24.

“We can do anything that all the Level I Trauma Centers can do in the state,” says Chandler Regional Medical Center Trauma Program Manager Lori Wass, who began working at the center on April 1, 2013.

Although there are only three designated rooms in the emergency department for trauma patients, the center has the ability to see more of the injured because once they are stabilized, they can be moved out of those rooms.

The center will provide service for Pinal and Maricopa counties. The center had to obtain funds for equipment, special stretchers and cabinets to help organize supplies for neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons.

More than $10 million has already been invested in the center. According to Director of Public Relations and Marketing Julie Graham, the Dignity Health Foundation of the East Valley has provided $1,150,000 in funding for the center from donations.

It will cost between $8 million and $10 million annually to maintain it, says Chandler Regional Trauma Medical Director Dr. Forrest (Dell) Moore.

There are Level I Trauma Centers in downtown Phoenix and Scottsdale, but, due to growth, this one was needed, Moore says.

“There isn’t a close enough trauma center for patients in the Southeast Valley and Pinal (County),” he says.

He also chalks up the decision to the vital “golden hour,” that important time period in which those suffering traumatic injuries must be seen.

Wass says recent data shows that in Maricopa County 42 percent of patients reached a trauma facility within the golden hour. Of those injured in Pinal County, only 10 percent of them received treatment within the first 60 minutes.

“Fifty-eight percent in Maricopa County and 90 percent in Pinal County did not get to a Level I Trauma in 60 minutes,” Moore says. “We can increase those odds significantly. The closer you are to a Level I Trauma Center, the better the outcome. It is in the perfect location to treat patients in Southeast Valley and Pinal County.”

In addition to providing trauma patients with faster care, the center, Moore explains, will also keep families closer to home because they no longer have to travel to downtown Phoenix or Scottsdale. EMS travel time is also cut in half.

Moore says the center in Chandler will affect Maricopa and Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn medical centers, but it’s more important to serve the needs of the community and decrease the risk of death and complications due to prolonged transportation times.

An expected 1,500 to 2,000 trauma patients a year will be admitted to the hospital from minor to severe injuries. Moore says some of those include complex hand injuries, chest and abdominal injuries, pelvic fractures from a blunt mechanism, car accident or fall, or stab or gunshot wounds.

“We have all the specialists onboard to be able to care for any traumatic injury,” he says.

There are approximately 15 specialty groups at the center with multiple physicians within each specialty. Moore says they have six surgeons in trauma care, multiple orthopedic trauma surgeons, four neurosurgeons, as well as many hand surgeons, plastic surgeons and vascular surgeons. Others include anesthesiologists, nurses and ancillary services.

Wass says trauma surgeons are at the center 24 hours a day, seven days a week and the other surgeons are always on call. Overall, there are up to 70 physicians caring for trauma patients.

“We are very excited to be a Level I Trauma facility and we are looking forward to giving the care to individuals in the community and their families,” Wass says.

The Level I Trauma Center’s designation is in conjunction with the hospital’s expansion project that is scheduled to open later this year. The expansion at Tower C will add 96 beds, expand the emergency department an increase the operating room capacity.