Franciscan St. Elizabeth set to become a trauma center

Franciscan St. Elizabeth hospital seeking verification to become Indiana's twelfth hospital.
Franciscan St. Elizabeth hospital seeking verification to become Indiana's twelfth hospital.

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – Franciscan St. Elizabeth East is in the process of becoming Indiana’s 12th trauma center and the only one between Indianapolis and Chicago.

Indiana’s newest trauma center will be one of two coming to Lafayette.

In January, the Indiana State EMS Commission recognized Franciscan St. Elizabeth East Hospital as an “in the process” trauma center, meaning trauma patients closer to Lafayette will no longer be transported to Indianapolis or Chicago.

“There’s really not a whole lot of trauma centers in the state of Indiana and to be able to get the patient to the highest level of care within 45 minutes is a challenge, and you can’t do that,” said Nuseibeh.

According to the Indiana State Department of Health, trauma systems can lower preventable death rates by as much as 30 percent.

As an “in the process” trauma center, EMS crews will now be able to transport most trauma patients to Franciscan St. Elizabeth East instead of Indianapolis.

Trauma Program manager Regina Nuseibeh said this will benefit trauma patients in rural areas the most.

“The data shows us that a lot of the injured patients due happen in rural communities. The highest number of patients happen there, so we have a large area in Indiana that is such a distance away from the nearest trauma center, that there is a need for another trauma center,” said Nuseibeh.

The hospital has been working to become a trauma center for three years. It has the equipment and trained staff to operate as one. The final step is to be verified as a level three trauma center by the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma.

A level three means 24-hour coverage of emergencies, having a trauma surgeon be no more than 30 minutes away from the hospital, and working with higher level trauma centers in Indianapolis.

“We will continue to monitor our processes and continue to work with higher level of care to make sure that we give the patient the care that they need,” said Nuseibeh.

The hospital has two years to seek verification. Nuseibeh said she hopes and expects to be verified soon.

IU Health Arnett is also seeking verification to become a level three trauma center. IU Health Arnett CEO Al Gatmeitan said they expect to be certified later this Spring.

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