Second trauma center makes Augusta emergency care fastER, bettER

News 12 at 11 o'clock / Friday, June 28, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Emergency care in Augusta just got a whole lot better. That's because instead of having just one trauma center, we now have two.

"We never know when we're going to get injured," reminded Dr. Bruce Janiak, vice chairman of GRU's Department of Emergency Medicine.

When emergency strikes, a trauma center is where you want to be. Until now, anyone with a traumatic injury was transported to GRU, but next time someone takes a ride in an ambulance, they could end up at Trinity Hospital in Augusta.

"When we get multiple patients, it's extremely difficult to see all them quickly, so to have help with another institution capable of doing that is an enormous benefit," Janiak said.

GRU is a Level 1 trauma center, meaning they can handle anything from critical injuries to a broken arm. Trinity was just named a Level III, so the less serious injuries can go to them.

That frees up doctors to spend more time on severe patients and cuts the wait time for everyone.

"Just in terms of how long you have to wait to receive emergency care, we're now able to take care of those less acute traumas," Trinity Hospital's Rachel Covar said.

In 2007, a study showed Georgia's mortality rate was 20 percent higher than the national average because of a lack of trauma centers in the state, but doctors say partnerships like the one between GRU and Trinity are helping heal problems like that.

Since 2011, Georgia has gained seven new trauma centers, including Trinity. That finally puts the state at the national average, and according to experts with the Georgia Trauma Care Network Commission, that means we could be saving up to 700 more lives each year.

"They should be excited because we've just gone to another level of patient care efficiency care of trauma patients in the CSRA and that's going to be good for everyone," Janiak said.

That includes the women involved in Friday's wreck on I-20 or those who were involved in the one that shut the interstate down Thursday.

Janiak says they even called in more doctors to GRU in preparation of the injuries, but EMS says the victims ended up not needing to go. That's when Janiak says a Level III trauma center is helpful, and the victims in both the wrecks could have been sufficiently treated at Trinity.

The ER doctors and nurses at Trinity are actually part of the emergency group at GRU.

Trinity has only had the trauma center designation for a little more than a week, but they say they've already seen a few broken ankles.

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