Taken from Daily Local News
By BRIAN McCULLOUGH
For eight years, Chester County has been without a trauma center.
That will change Oct. 1, when Paoli Hospital will begin accepting patients as a Level II Trauma Center.
According to sources familiar with the situation, an announcement will be made Tuesday morning that Paoli has been accredited by the Pennsylvania Trauma Systems Foundation.
Chester County has been without a trauma center since 2002 when Brandywine Hospital closed its center, citing the medical malpractice crisis and difficulty in recruiting and retaining neurosurgeons and trauma surgeons in Pennsylvania.
Since then, Chester has been the only county in southeastern Pennsylvania without a designated trauma center.
In July 2008, the Chester County Trauma Services Task Force released a study that recommended that either Chester County Hospital, a nonprofit hospital in West Chester, or Brandywine Hospital in Caln, a property of for-profit Community Health Systems of Franklin, Tenn., would be the best places to operate a trauma center.
Instead, Paoli, a member of the Main Line Health system, volunteered its hospital.
In explaining Paoli’s decision in a story in the Daily Local News last year, President Barbara Tachovsky said it was clear that with the hospital’s $145 million patient care pavilion project, it would would have room for a trauma center.
The four-story pavilion project has nearly doubled the size of the existing hospital and vastly expanded its emergency department.
Tachovsky said when she approached the trauma center task force to say Paoli Hospital was considering a trauma center, members welcomed the idea. The task force had been concerned that the failing economy would dampen the public’s willingness to fund such a center, she said then.
To be sure, a trauma center is an expensive endeavor.
According to Tachovsky, the trauma center will cost $7 million to operate in its first full year and expenses are expected to go up. By 2019, the hospital’s business plan predicts the trauma center will have annual operating costs of $12 million.
In Pennsylvania there are three levels of trauma centers, according to the Pennsylvania Trauma Systems Foundation website.
Level I trauma centers require trauma research, a surgical residency program, and an annual volume of 600 major patients per year.
A level II trauma center meets the same level of care but does not require the research and residency components. Volume requirements are 350 major trauma patients per year.
Level III trauma centers are smaller community hospitals which do not require a minimum volume of trauma patients. Their focus is to stabilize severe trauma in preparation for transport to a higher level trauma center as well as care for patients with moderate trauma.
They do not need neurosurgical resources.
Paoli Hospital officials were unavailable for comment on Monday.