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Traumatic Injury Is The Leading Cause Of Death For Americans Under The Age Of 44, Yet Our Current Trauma Care System Remains Underfunded Nationwide; Upstate NY Has 14 Trauma Centers, 6 of Which Are Level I And Particularly Costly To Maintain – Schumer Says Additional Resources Are Needed for Levels I and Lower to Best Treat Severely Injured Patients

In NYS There Are 38 Trauma Centers, But Limited Number Upstate; Schumer Says Centers Need More Resources To Deliver the Best Care; In Capital Region, There is 1 Trauma Center; In Central NY, 2; In Western NY, 1; In Rochester-Finger Lakes,1; In Southern Tier,3; In Hudson Valley, 5; In North Country, 1; On Long Island, 9 

Schumer: Every Minute Is Crucial Following a Medical Emergency – Our Trauma Centers, No Matter What Level, Should Have Resources Needed to Best Treat Patients 

On a conference call with reporters, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today launched his push to pass legislation to get additional federal resources for Upstate New York’s trauma centers, which treat the most severely injured patients and can be very expensive to maintain. Schumer cited the fact that trauma is the leading cause of death for Americans under 44, and argued that additional resources are needed at trauma centers across Upstate NY in order to help them best care for patients during medical emergencies. Schumer therefore pushed for the Trauma Systems and Regionalization of Emergency Care Reauthorization Act, which will authorize grants for planning, implementing, and developing trauma care systems, as well as support for existing trauma care centers. Schumer explained that Upstate NY, like other rural areas across the country, relies on its existing network of trauma care centers which would greatly benefit from the development of a strong local trauma care system between the hospitals in smaller, rural communities.

“Our trauma centers – whether Level I, II or pediatric – should all have the resources they need to provide patients with the best treatment during emergency situations. Every minute following a serious medical emergency could mean the difference between life and death. That is why I am pushing legislation that would not only help support New York’s trauma centers with more resources, but also provide vital federal funding to keep trauma centers from closing,” said Schumer. “It goes without saying, these trauma centers serve a vital public need and it is simply unacceptable that that trauma centers lack the medical resources to treat trauma patients. So I am going to fight for the passage of this legislation the same way our Upstate trauma centers fight for their patients every day.”

Schumer explained that trauma is the leading cause of death for Americans age 44 and under. In fact, according to the National Trauma Institute, trauma accounts for 41 million emergency room visits nationally, in addition to 2.3 million hospital admissions across the country, each year. Schumer said these striking statistics show it is critical we continue ensuring trauma centers across New York have the financial support necessary to keep the standard of care for patients high. That is why Schumer is pushing legislation, introduced by Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) – called the Trauma Systems and Regionalization of Emergency Care Reauthorization Act – that would reauthorize financial support for existing trauma care centers across New York as well as provide additional resources through federal grants for planning, implementing, and developing trauma care systems. Specifically, this bill amends the Public Health Service Act to reauthorize trauma care programs, which is set to expire in September 2015, through FY2020.

First, Schumer said this legislation would help maintain and enhance Level I trauma centers. Level I trauma centers are characterized by their ability to provide the highest level of surgical care, with a complete range of specialists 24 hours per day. Lower level trauma centers also offer a wide array of specialists but are typically more limited in resources and only provide certain necessary medical services 24 hours per day; that is why they often work in close coordination with Level I centers. Schumer explained that this reauthorization is critical for many Upstate NY trauma centers – which are already limited in number – so they can better care for residents, particularly those in nearby rural areas. In fact, Schumer said there are only six Level I trauma centers across Upstate NY – located in Albany, Rochester, Syracuse, Buffalo, Binghamton and New Rochelle. Because this high level of care at Level I center is often very expensive to maintain, Schumer said reauthorizing this program would provide the financial support these existing trauma care centers across New York desperately need.

Second, Schumer said this legislation would provide additional resources to allow Lower Level trauma centers in particular to better provide for patients in emergency medical situations. Schumer said that because these centers are often limited by available resources and even geography, two federal grant programs would be made available to ensure all levels of trauma centers have the necessary resources to stabilize patients in emergencies. Schumer said there are only 14 trauma centers – including Levels I and lower – across all of Upstate New York, meaning these centers could use all of the additional resources they can get. Specifically, the legislation reauthorizes funding for two programs, $24 million to be shared equally between the two initiatives. The first federal funding stream is the Trauma Care Systems Planning Grant program, which provides support to the development of state and rural trauma systems. The second, the Regionalization of Emergency Care Systems Pilot Projects program, provides federal funds for the design, implementation, and evaluation of innovative models for regionalized emergency care.

Schumer said both of these measures are needed to ensure trauma centers of all levels are best equipped to treat individuals within the “golden hour,” the time period when medical intervention is most effective in saving lives. Therefore, Schumer pushed for the passage of the Trauma Systems and Regionalization of Emergency Care Reauthorization Act to get additional federal resources for Upstate New York’s trauma centers, which treat the most severely injured patients, are limited in number, and can be very expensive to maintain regardless of what level of care they provide.

During the call, Schumer also provided data on the number of trauma centers in New York. According to the American Trauma Society, there are 39 total trauma centers throughout New York State, in addition to two pediatric trauma centers. Across Upstate NY alone, there are 14 trauma centers, Levels I and lower. Of these, only six centers are Level I trauma centers. Between Long Island and Upstate NY, there are 23 trauma centers Levels I and lower. 

  • In the Capital Region, there is 1 trauma center.
  • In Central New York, there are 2 trauma centers.
  • In Western New York, there is 1 trauma center.
  • In the Rochester-Finger Lakes, there is 1 trauma center.
  • In the Southern Tier, there are 3 trauma centers.
  • In the Hudson Valley, there are 5 trauma centers.
  • In the North Country, there is 1 trauma center.
  • On Long Island, there are 9 trauma centers.

The Healthcare Association of New York State (HANYS) President Dennis Whalen commended Senator Schumer for drawing attention to the intense resource needs of trauma centers across New York saying, “Trauma centers are in critical need of renewed federal funding and the Senator is leading the way in Congress to ensure the highest levels of emergency care are available to all New Yorkers.”

“Excellent trauma care relies on an optimally functioning trauma system and a coordinated, multidisciplinary approach to the care of the victim. While many injuries can be treated at a local emergency department, if you are severely injured, receiving care at a Trauma Center can lower your risk of death by 25 percent. While large cities and surrounding communities are served by these centers, a sizable portion of the state of New York and the U.S. at large still lacks access to these critical resources,” said Ian Weston, Executive Director of the American Trauma Society.