A newly formed state commission aimed at improving trauma care statewide hopes to do so from Columbia County.
A representative from the Georgia Trauma Care Network Commission recently asked county officials for space to operate a call center. From there, commission staff can guide field medics to the best place to get patient care, hopefully within the Golden Hour -- a one-hour window after a traumatic injury when the lives of most patients can be saved with medical intervention.
Making sure that timely medical intervention is available to all Georgians is the mission of the commission, founded in 2007, said Executive Director Jim Pettyjohn.
"Trauma is a disease of injury," Pettyjohn said. "We want to get that patient to the (operating room) and stop that bleeding or prevent those organs from shutting down with surgical intervention.
"Getting the patient to the right hospital at the right time is essential. That is our mission in a nutshell."
Pettyjohn said he is considering Columbia County, among other sites in or near Atlanta, Forsyth and Macon, as the home of a Trauma Communication Center.
The call center will be a "clearinghouse of information" from hospitals and trauma centers statewide, including available services and space, Pettyjohn said.
Staff will accept calls from field medics and medical center staff to recommend the closest medical center that meets their needs.
The state has 15 certified trauma centers. Four are Level I centers associated with a research school, including Medical College of Georgia Hospital, and nine are Level II trauma centers. But much of the southern half of the state, which is mostly rural, is more than 50 miles from a trauma center.
Columbia County is lucky, said Pam Tucker, county Emergency and Operations director. It is close to several major medical centers.
Tucker said she would like to see the call center in the county, so she and other county officials are looking at options to offer the commission. However, space in government buildings is tight until April, when the county Health Department will move into its new location, leaving the three current Health Department buildings vacant.
"We're trying to brainstorm now," Tucker said. "These hospitals, they are our hospitals, too. We want to make sure our residents and residents in other rural areas get the fastest trauma care that they can."
The commission asked for about 1,200 square feet to house four cubicles, a director's office, a small room or closet for computer servers and communications access for radio equipment. The county would not be responsible for any costs associated with the call center.
Tucker and other members of the Community and Emergency Services Committee are exploring options and hope to present suggestions to county commissioners at a meeting on Tuesday.
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