One of our Department priorities over the last few years has been to improve Arizona’s Trauma System.  We know we can dramatically improve service and reduce costs by developing a coordinated and integrated system of trauma care for the entire state.  More than 24,000 people are severely injured (called trauma) every year in Arizona, and more than 60% of these severe injuries occur in the rural and frontier areas of Arizona. Receiving treatment in this first hour is critical to survival.

We completed a full assessment of Arizona’s trauma system a few years ago and concluded that our greatest weakness was our rural and frontier Arizona trauma capacity.  Our priority has been to establish Level IV Trauma Centers in rural AZ hospitals so that folks can be treated closer to where they’re hurt- or to be resuscitated and stabilized so they can be transported (preferably by ground) to a higher level of care if necessary.  Designation as a Level IV requires the least resources and capabilities and typically will resuscitate and stabilize a patient and transfer the patient to a more appropriate Level, based on the patient’s injuries.  We started small- with a couple of early adapter hospitals coming on line as Level IV trauma centers.

Our team has stuck with it- and this week we welcomed Wickenburg Community Hospital to our family of 13 Level IV Trauma Centers. We now have a vastly improved network of trauma resources in rural Arizona.  We’ll continue to press ahead to recruit additional Level IV Trauma Centers in rural AZ- but also to recruit 2 or 3 Level III trauma centers in select rural communities that can care for moderately injured patients whose injuries are severe enough that our Level IV centers can’t care for them, but who don’t require the specialized care that is available from the Level I trauma centers.