Our Views: More progress in trauma care

Some very good news for the Baton Rouge area may have been overlooked at a larger event, but deserves notice: The progress toward an around-the-clock trauma center for victims of accidents.

The emergency room at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center has expanded as LSU physicians and physicians-in-training are now housed at the Lake.

Gov. Bobby Jindal spoke about the expansion of services at the Lake because of the LSU merger, part of his often-controversial agreements to replace the former charity hospital system with public-private partnerships.

The governor’s principal focus was the ribbon-cutting for the LSU Health Urgent Care Center, a 24-7 facility in north Baton Rouge that will serve patients in minor emergency cases. It replaces the emergency room of the closed LSU Earl K. Long Medical Center.

Jindal also noted the improvements in trauma care for the region at the south Baton Rouge campus of the Lake. The emergency room just attained Level II trauma center status from the American College of Surgeons, Jindal announced.

Level II offers top-level 24-hour immediate coverage by general surgeons, as well as health care in the specialties of orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, anesthesiology, emergency medicine, radiology and critical care.

The Lake is progressing toward Level I designation, which requires completion and publication of research in the trauma and emergency medicine field. While Baton Rouge has several high-quality emergency rooms, a Level I trauma center would be a significant advance. Officials said that status should come in the next two years. The only other Level I Trauma Center in the state is in New Orleans.

Jindal called it another example of how the partnership is yielding benefits to residents, and we applaud the development. A Level I center can save lives but it is expensive and difficult to staff properly without the assistance of the LSU physicians.

It’s good news and we welcome the progress made in trauma care.