People who are seriously injured in Spokane now are often treated at the hospital of their choice. Not for long.
The city’s two largest hospitals received the blessing of state health officials Wednesday to treat seriously injured patients at either Sacred Heart or Deaconess medical center - depending on which week it is.
It’s the only trauma plan of its kind in Washington, and one of only a few in the nation.
“We’re real excited,” said Linda Greenburg, trauma director at Sacred Heart. “We’ve put a lot of effort into enhancing our trauma care program.”
Surgeons will be on call at both hospitals on a rotating schedule. They must stay within 20 minutes of the emergency room.
Paramedics will be instructed to take the most seriously injured patients to Deaconess one week, Sacred Heart the next.
Patients should simply call 911 like always, said Greenburg. “We’ll make sure they get to the place that they need to be.”
The plan has been criticized by members of the American College of Surgeons, who said it dilutes expertise by involving too many trauma surgeons.
Proponents say the plan will save money by allowing hospitals to team up on resources and equipment purchases.
Washington is following a national trend to improve treatment for trauma, the No. 1 killer of people under 45. Health officials predict 263 major trauma cases in Eastern Washington this year and 2,284 statewide.
Deaconess and Sacred Heart received a Level II trauma designation. Only research hospitals can be designated Level I centers.
Holy Family Hospital and Valley Hospital and Medical Center were designated Level III centers and will treat trauma patients with less serious injuries.