Optimally, when a trauma happens, EMS takes that person to a trauma center that is within a 25-minute distance. For us, the nearest is Barnes in St. Louis or Evansville, IN. The nearest in Illinois is Springfield, leaving Southern Illinois in a “trauma desert.” That equates to approximately 1.2 million people not locally served by a trauma program.

However, steps are underway in what has been a five-year process, to implement a service that affects the whole of Southern Illinois: a Level II Trauma Center. While currently operating trauma services, SIH Memorial Hospital of Carbondale plans to receive their official designation this fall. It’s not in the form of a building, but rather a substantial collaborative effort of treating people that sustain injuries

Trauma, emergency. Isn't it all the same? 

The fact is, all traumas are emergencies, but not all emergencies are traumas. By definition, a trauma refers to physical injuries of a sudden onset in severity, which require immediate medical attention.

Physicians who specialize in trauma have to master a variety of skills, some 15 years of training, just at a base level. They’re experts in surgery, intensive care, emergency care and in clinical medicine, making it the only health service where you will see the same doctor throughout the treatment. Currently a team of four specialized trauma physicians (a fifth coming soon), along with supporting staff, lead the way at SIH. Together, they’ll coordinate with the myriad of local medical professionals across the SIH system, the 23 local hospitals and entire Region 5 EMS system.

“The whole goal is to get the patient back to where they were, the best that we can. It will be a game changer for all of Southern Illinois because it affects everything,” said SIH Director of Trauma and Emergency Services Garrett Burton.

Think about this. Trauma affects: 

  1. The people of southern Illinois. Having a designated trauma center in Southern Illinois saves time and lives. Families can get to their loved one quicker.
  2. SIH Memorial Hospital of Carbondale. All services of the hospital are utilized: ED, imaging, those on the floor, the switchboard, ICU, rehab, the list goes on. It all depends on the nature of the injury. It also impacts services across the SIH system.
  3. Community hospitals. Trauma isn’t a one-man show. This service works with all local hospitals and emergency personnel in training and protocols to better handle traumatic injuries. Burton says all local hospitals have shown their support for this effort, because it makes them better prepared.
  4. First responders: ambulance, helicopter, firefighters, etc. collaborate with the trauma center.
  5. ll cities and townships will see impacts. Anytime people get to stay local, it actually helps our economy.

Trauma is a life-changing event. This will be region-changing. A desert no more.