Regional Medical Center of San Jose Must Address Some Issues for Trauma Center Application To Be Considered, County Officials Say
Santa Clara County officials on Monday informed administrators at Regional Medical Center of San Jose that some staffing and training issues must be resolved before the county would consider its application to open a new trauma center, the San Jose Mercury News reports. Regional has 30 days to address the recommendations, which were made by a panel of emergency department experts after inspecting the hospital in December 2004.
The panel's recommendations included a request that Regional administrators improve nurse training and guarantee that physicians are available at all times to treat trauma cases.
Regional will have to address the panel's findings and secure the approval of the county Board of Supervisors to become a trauma center.
Bob Sillen, director of the county's health system, said that a decision on the matter would not be made for at least 60 to 90 days.
In addition, the county this spring will commission an independent study to assess whether a third trauma center is needed in Santa Clara County (Sevrens Lyons/Landhuis, San Jose Mercury News, 2/8).
Despite widespread concern that ED crowding following the closure of San Jose Medical Center could "endanger patients' lives," Santa Clara County officials say such fears appear to have been largely unfounded, the Mercury News reports.
SJMC, which closed in December 2004, handled 31,000 emergency patients and 1,900 trauma patients annually. The three nearest hospitals -- Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, Regional and O'Connor Hospital -- are reporting increases in ED visits of as much as 39% and longer wait-times for patients with non-life-threatening conditions.
However, the "widespread" ED overcrowding that some warned would result from the closure of SJMC's ED has not materialized, according to county emergency services chief Bruce Lee. "For the most part, the system is working very well," Lee said, adding, "The trauma system has performed exceptionally well. We knew there was the ability to handle more patients, but we didn't know how much."
The Mercury News reports that a mild flu season, a new ambulance diversion policy -- in which hospitals can remain on diversion for only a limited number of hours at a time -- and hospitals' efforts to add nurses, doctors and beds prior to SJMC's closure "appear to have staved off the worst" (Feder Ostrov, San Jose Mercury News, 2/5).