Los Angeles Times Examines Availability of Trauma Care in San Gabriel Valley
Trauma patients in the San Gabriel Valley, which has one trauma center, often must be transported to other facilities in Los Angeles County, the Los Angeles Times reports. The most recent data indicates that 24% of patients requiring trauma care in the valley were transported by helicopter to a trauma center in 2002-2003, while 72% were driven by ambulance.
The San Gabriel Valley used to have three trauma centers, including Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center, Citrus Valley Medical Center-Queen of the Valley Campus and Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena. However, high charity care costs resulting from a large number of uninsured patients forced two of the hospitals to close their trauma units, leaving only Huntington to provide trauma care in an area with a population of more than two million.
Local officials have begun campaigning to reopen one of the trauma centers in the valley, with Pomona Valley leading the candidates. According to the Times, Pomona Valley officially closed its trauma unit in 1988 but continues to treat and stabilize many trauma patients before they are transferred to other facilities.
Carol Meyer, director of the county Emergency Medical Services Agency, said transport times for trauma patients in the San Gabriel Valley are longer than for many other parts of Los Angeles County, but she added that there is no evidence that delays result in a higher mortality rate for area patients. Meyer said that most trauma patients in the San Gabriel Valley are transported to a trauma center within the county's guideline of 30 minutes (Chong, Los Angeles Times, 6/8).