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Mercy Hospital trauma service upgraded

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
January 16, 2010
— Mercy Hospital officials said Friday that local trauma patients are more likely to survive because of recent upgrades to its emergency trauma center.

At the same time, more money is flowing into Mercy coffers because more accident victims are being treated locally, officials said in a news conference.


Mercy called the conference to announce that the American College of Surgeons has certified the hospital as a Level 2 trauma center.


A Level 2 center can provide higher levels of care for seriously injured patients than a Level 3, center, such as at Beloit Memorial Hospital, or a Level 4 center, such as the Edgerton hospital.


As the Janesville Gazette reported last June, the upgrade means the hospital can take cases that had been sent to Madison or other larger regional hospitals.


“The key is being able to provide the care to people close to home,” said Mercy Health System president and CEO Javon Bea. “Obviously in major trauma, time is of the essence, and so you’re saving lives, decreasing morbidity, if you can get the full trauma services to an individual quickly.”


The trauma center has been operating at the higher level since December 2008, officials said.


As a result, Mercy Janesville saw an 82 percent increase in trauma cases from 2008 to 2009, said Dr. Robb Whinney, director of trauma, acute-care surgery and surgical critical care.


Mercy handled 309 trauma cases in 2008 but 563 in 2009. Trauma cases listed as critical were up 141 percent.


Admissions to the hospital from trauma cases also increased, from 222 to 406.


At the same time, transfers out of the hospital dropped by 48 percent, from 63 to 33, Mercy reported.


Income from those patients is paying for the $5 million invested in the Mercy trauma upgrade, Bea said.


Mercy officials said seven other Level 2 trauma centers are in Wisconsin, but none south of La Crosse. There are two Level 1 centers south of La Crosse: University Hospital in Madison and Froedtert Hospital in Wauwatosa.


St. Anthony Hospital and Rockford Memorial Hospital, both in Rockford, Ill., also boast Level 1 trauma centers.


“If I were someone living south of La Crosse, other than trying to get into the UW, I would be asking myself, ‘why am I living in the entire central-southern part of the state where there is no Level 2 trauma center,’” Bea said.


The new St. Mary’s Janesville Hospital, which is set to open in 2011, will be able to stabilize trauma patients, but it does not plan to apply for any kind of trauma designation, said spokesman Steve Van Dinter.


One key requirement for a Level 2 center is that a trauma surgeon is on call 24 hours a day year-round. Mercy has had three trauma surgeons handling those duties since December 2008, said Anne Quaerna, emergency room nursing director.


The surgeons have relieved pressure on the other emergency-room doctors, Quaerna



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