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'The Business of Health Care Report'

Trauma Funding Issue is Not Going Away

I’m Doug Hawthorne, president and CEO of Texas Health Resources, with “The Business of Health Care Report.”

Traumatic events – whether on a small scale such as a single-car auto accident, or a devastating tornado – can, and will, happen. And when they do, it is imperative that injuries are treated in a prompt, effective manner – which is the reason Texas created a trauma system, consisting of 230 centers across the state.

Trauma centers are not local emergency rooms. They serve broad geographic areas, and treat patients with the most severe, life-threatening injuries. The services these centers provide is effective, essential and, unfortunately, costly.

Hospitals and staff face continued pressure from increased demand for services, funding constraints, increased costs from uncompensated care, staffing shortages and increasing medical liability insurance costs. Estimates for the amount of funding needed for trauma centers range as high as $300 million a year.

In 2003, the Texas Legislature created the Driver Responsibility Program, which punishes bad drivers with stiff fines that go into a state trust fund to maintain and strengthen the state’s trauma facilities. This year, trauma centers will receive more than $45 million from the fund.

It’s a good start, but more can and should be done to protect our state’s precious trauma network so it will continue to serve in our times of need.

For Texas Health Resources and its faith-based hospitals – Harris Methodist, Presbyterian and Arlington Memorial – I’m Doug Hawthorne.

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