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Health chief: Indiana needs more trauma center access

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Much of Indiana lacks the access to major trauma centers needed to treat victims of attacks like the one in Tucson that killed six people and left U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona and 12 others wounded, Indiana's health commissioner said Tuesday.

Commissioner Greg Larkin said that although many Indiana hospitals have emergency rooms that can treat simple gunshot wounds and other minor trauma, there are not enough hospitals with certified trauma centers.

Giffords, one of 13 people injured who survived the attack Jan. 8, arrived at an operating room within 38 minutes of being shot through the head and received care from an experienced team of surgeons and other health care workers. She has made remarkable progress and doctors have upgraded her medical condition from critical to serious.

Larkin said no hospital in western Indiana north of Evansville is prepared for similar trauma cases.

"She would not have had the chance to survive if she was campaigning in Gary or Terre Haute," Larkin told a meeting of the Indiana Rural Health Association. Giffords was meeting constituents outside a Tucson supermarket at the time of the shootings.

Indiana has certified trauma centers only at hospitals in Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, South Bend and Evansville. Severe trauma patients in heavily populated northwest Indiana must go to South Bend or to hospitals in Chicago, if the latter are willing to accept them, he said.

"In Indiana we don't have very good distribution," Larkin said.

Mel Burks, a Gary native and executive director of administrative services at Terre Haute-based mental health provider Hamilton Center Inc., said Larkin's remarks came as a "shock." He said the health care community in Terre Haute and across Indiana had a lot of work to do to upgrade trauma care.

But Larkin's comments didn't surprise Meredith Addison, a nurse at Terre Haute Regional Hospital and a past Indiana president of the Emergency Nurses Association.

"The facts hurt sometimes," Addison said outside the meeting. She applauded Larkin for bringing attention to the matter.

She said a large swath of western Indiana, from Vincennes in the south to Kentland near the Illinois border in the north, are more than an hour's travel away from a trauma center in either state. Larkin said doctors refer to that period as the "golden hour" of treatment for producing the best outcomes for gravely injured patients.

Some severely injured Indiana residents, depending on where they are hurt, can receive treatment at trauma centers in Chicago, Cincinnati and Louisville, but out-of-state hospitals are not obligated to accept them. Major trauma cases are expensive to treat, and patients may not have health insurance, Larkin said.

"Chicago is being very selective about which cases they're going to accept," Larkin said.

Larkin and Addison serve on a state trauma care task force that meets quarterly to study ways to upgrade Indiana's trauma care. Larkin said they don't know when they'll report back to Gov. Mitch Daniels, who created the panel by executive order in November 2009.

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  1. Socialized medicine works great for white people in Scandanavia. It works well in Costa Rica for a population that is partly white and partly mestizo. I don't really see Obamacare as something aimed against whites. I think that is a Republican canard designed to elicit support from white people for republican candidates who don't care about them any more than democrats care about the non-whites they pander to with their phony maneuvers. But what is different between Costa Rica nd the Scandanavian nations on one hand and the US on the other? SIZE. Maybe the US is just too damn big. Maybe it just needs to be divided into smaller self governing pieces like when the old Holy Roman Empire was dismantled. Maybe we are always trying the same set of solutions for different kinds of people as if we were all the same. Oh-- I know-- that is liberal dogma, that we are all the same. Which is the most idiotic American notion going right back to the propaganda of 1776. All men are different and their differences are myriad and that which is different is not equal. The state which pretends men are all the same is going to force men to be the same. That is what America does here, that is what we do in our stupid overseas wars, that is how we destroy true diversity and true difference, and we are all as different groups of folks, feeling the pains of how capitalism is grinding us down into equally insignificant proletarian microconsumers with no other identity whether we like it or not. And the Marxists had this much right about the War of Independence: it was fundamentally a war of capitalist against feudal systems. America has been about big money since day one and whatever gets in the way is crushed. Health care is just another market and Obamacare, to the extent that it Rationalizes and makes more uniform a market which should actually be really different in nature and delivery from place to place-- well that will serve the interests of the biggest capitalist stakeholders in health care which is not Walmart for Gosh Sakes it is the INSURANCE INDUSTRY. CUI BONO Obamacare? The insurance industry. So republicans drop the delusion pro capitalist scales from your eyes this has almost nothing to do with race or "socialism" it has to do mostly with what the INSURANCE INDUSTRY wants to have happen in order to make their lives and profits easier.

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