Studies show a trauma patient's chance of survival is at least 15 percent higher when treated at a nearby trauma center. The Big Bend area didn't have one when a study revealed last year that five area counties lead the state in trauma deaths: Leon, Gadsden, Jefferson, Wakulla and Calhoun counties. It prompted action from Tallahassee Memorial, now working towards a trauma center designation.
But, it's going to be expensive. Freda Lyon, a TMH Emergency Services Administrator said, "A trauma center is not a money maker, it just saves lives." The average Florida trauma center loses about $5 million each year and TMH says it won't be any different in Tallahassee.
It will cost about $1.4 million each year just to run the program, not including patient costs. The start up costs at $1.5 million. But, the lives it will save is the trade off for the hospital, the City of Tallahassee and Leon County. Both governments committed $300,000 in this fiscal year's budgets to help support the program.
Dr. Joanna Lee, TMH'S new Trauma Medical Director said, "Having a trauma center will decrease that mortality and I look forward to making sure those numbers are improved as time goes on."
Dr. Lee was brought in last month and is helping the hospital build the trauma program. She says some of the state requirements for a trauma center have already been met, including having five surgeons on call at all times. As a result, the hospital is already acting as a trauma center, but the official designation is not expected until later next year.