SANTA BARBARA: Who Will Provide Primary Trauma Care?
The move to improve Santa Barbara County's trauma response may become a "strategic arms race between hospitals" as they vie to become the county's designated trauma treatment center, the Santa Barbara News-Press reports. Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital officials are pressing county health officials to institute a policy that would send trauma victims directly to Cottage, replacing the current system that sends them to the nearest hospital. Cottage officials, who have pledged to build a helipad and make other improvements, claim "a single trauma center -- with a range of specialists -- could better treat people hurt in automobile crashes or suffering other severe injuries." Health officials are not convinced. Nancy Lapolla, director of the county Emergency Medical Services Department, said, "We are not recommending one hospital (become a trauma center) only, and that none of the others participate. Our philosophy is to develop systems where all hospitals are participants." Cottage's main competitor, St. Francis Medical Center, charges that Cottage is merely seeking a "marketing advantage" from the trauma designation. St. Francis Administrator Ron Biscaro also questioned the wisdom of designating only one area hospital as a trauma center, given the region's susceptibility to earthquakes. Santa Barbara County EMS medical director Dr. Angelo Salvucci said, "The question is, 'How do you supply the best care to everyone who arrives at any hospital?'" The county will likely submit its plan to the state in January. Cottage President and CEO Jim Ash said "if the county continues to be unreceptive ... they will appeal elsewhere, including the Board of Supervisors" (Schultz, 10/16).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.