NW Arkansas Mercy Hospital Adds New Speedy Trauma Transport

Published 04/12 2014 11:21AM

Updated 04/12 2014 11:25AM

NORTHWEST Ark. -- Mercy Hospital of Northwest Arkansas is expanding its transport services and bringing on a new helicopter with advanced technology.

When it comes to trauma care in Northwest Arkansas, special services might require a speedy transport. Folks at Mercy Hospital tell us every second counts. Mercy Hospital in Northwest Arkansas is a level three trauma center.

Trauma medical director, Dr. Donna Johnson said, "Head injuries and complex pelvic fractures as well as some other complex lung and bone fractures would need services from a level one trauma center. There's not as much of a difference between a level one and a level two as there is between a level one and a level three."

Dr. Johnson said those differences are staff, supplies, and special skills. "A level one trauma center has 24-hour coverage of surgeons and or personnel. it also provides full-time neurological coverage."

Dr. Johnson knows first hand that seconds count. She said, "It determines death and long-term disability rates. If we are unable to care for a patient then we call the dashboard, we find out what facility is closest and able to take the patient and then that facilitates the transfer quickly."

Based out of Little Rock, the dashboard acts as a dispatcher so if patients need level one trauma attention, the hospital can act fast.

"If we determine that a patient is to be transferred to a higher level of care, then we notify the helicopter. If the helicopter is able to fly and is available then we have a crew on sight and can basically get the patient in the air within 20 minutes or even less at times."

Dr. Johnson said most of these patients are flown to Mercy Hospital in Springfield, Missouri. She said, "Having Mercy in Springfield available as a level one, we have a special relationship with them and we are able to share information easily with them through our electronic medical record."

However, as Northwest Arkansas continues to grow, Dr. Johnson hopes to have that higher level of care at home. "At some point, Northwest Arkansas will probably have a level one trauma center."

While there are no level one trauma centers in Northwest Arkansas, according to the Arkansas Department of Health, there are two in Central Arkansas and three just outside of the state.

Mercy Hospital tells us their newest helicopter can combat rough weather and allow parents to accompany pediatric patients for trauma transports.

(courtesy KNWA)

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