GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - An 11-year-old Gulfport girl, seriously injured when she was hit by a pickup truck Monday, was flown to Mobile's USA Medical Center after the accident. That's because USA is the closest hospital to the coast with a level one pediatric trauma care unit. The only one providing that kind of pediatric care in this state would be in Jackson, at University Medical Center.
Mississippi is one of only about 25 states in the nation that has a trauma care network, which lawmakers began back in 1998.
"It's a good thing," said Christine Wieland, Director of Trauma and Emergency Services at Gulfport's Memorial Hospital. "You want your severe pediatric trauma to be taken care of where they do a lot of pediatric trauma, and have the specialists to take care of such cases."
Weiland said the state has contracted with USA Medical Center in Mobile for pediatric trauma care, simply because it is the closest. Weiland, and others pointed out that it would be cost prohibitive for a local hospital to provide pediatric trauma care.
As an example, Memorial Hospital in Gulfport typically gets about 75 trauma patients a month, but only one or two of those trauma cases are children.
Dan Burgess is the trauma program manager at Memorial.
"Trauma centers require a great deal of resources, and pediatric resources really require specialty pediatric care," Burgess said.
Another thing to consider is the fact that a child needing to be flown to USA, can be there in as little as 20 minutes from the Mississippi coast.
Of course, in an emergency, time is of the essence. Before the state had a trauma care network, critical time could be lost in determining where to take a patient. Now, that is no longer the case.
Although UMC in Jackson is the only hospital in this state providing level one pediatric care, there are two other hospitals in Mississippi that are considered level one for adult trauma care.