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Ga. works to streamline trauma care starting with Augusta

Trauma program launches

The program helps people who live in rural areas like Jefferson County because they're at least 50 minutes away from GHSU Medical Center. (WRDW-TV / Aug. 2, 2011)

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2011

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Georgia is trying to organize and streamline its trauma care system and is starting at the local level in the Augusta area.

Tuesday was the first official meeting of the Region VI Trauma Advisory Committee, or R-TAC, who has a specific job.

"[Their job is to] develop a plan for the delivery of trauma care in its region," said Richard Bias, Region VI EMS Advisory Council chair. "Then, that plan would be incorporated with others at the state level."

The committee is the first of its kind in the state.

"For the first time, all of the providers who deliver some aspect of trauma care in our region are at the table working together to look at how services are being provided and how they can be done better," Bias said.

Doctors say the committee will be able to allocate the region's resources more effectively, resulting in better trauma care for patients.

"I think what we were lacking was the ability to measure resources and what was available if there was an issue in the Augusta area," said Ralph Randall, CEO of Jefferson County Hospital.

Randall is happy to be a part of R-TAC. He says it helps people who live in rural areas like Jefferson County because they're at least 50 minutes away from GHSU Medical Center.

"Say there's a problem in the Augusta area where we need to go to a secondary center, then that information is going to be already available to us. We're going to know right away where those patients need to go," Randall said.

In order to know where patients need to go right away, doctors say all levels of the trauma system should be in constant communication, even across state lines.

"I think there had been some concern back when we had the Graniteville disaster that the best communication that occurred between South Carolina and Georgia was between [Aiken Regional Medical Center's] emergency department and MCG's emergency department," Cathy Robey-Williams said.

She represents the Aiken Region Medical Center on the committee and says that while ARMC and GHSU's communication has been good, other emergency organizations' communication hasn't been as good, and that's what R-TAC wants to change.

"The goal, I think, of this team is to make sure the outlying areas and the surrounding counties will be able to communicate with the region six trauma team," Robey-Williams said.

And if the committee meets that goal, doctors say the real winners are the patients.

"What this means is whether you're in Aiken, Augusta or Louisville, if this committee does its job right, then you'll have faster, better access to trauma care than you had before," Bias said.

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