Metropolitan Phoenix is one of the fastest growing areas in the country and despite the influx of people, it has been more than five years since a level one trauma center has opened.
For the East Valley, where much of the growth has happened over the last decade, Monday will mark the beginning of a new era. Chandler Regional Medical Center, located at the southeast corner of Dobson and Frye Roads has now been designated a "level one" trauma center.
A level one trauma center is equipped to handle critically injured patients 24 hours a day, seven days a week and are staffed with more than 15 specialized surgeons.
"We anticipate anywhere from 1,500 to 2,000 additional patients, and so we have to have the beds to care for those additional patients," said Chandler Regional Trauma Director Dr. Forrest Moore.
The biggest changes the East Valley will see because of the new designation is faster arrival times to the emergency room which consequently means a chance at a better outcome for those critically injured in an automobile accident, gun-shot wound, or any other traumatic circumstance.
It also means competition to some level one trauma hospitals in Phoenix.
"It [new status] affects the Downtown Phoenix level one trauma centers, but what is more important is that Chandler Regional meets the needs of the patients and the community that we serve," Moore said.
The hospital has been working on this new status for more than a year.
Chandler Fire Battalion Chief Keith Welch said the new center is long overdue.
"I've been on the department for 17 years and to see the growth that we all have seen in the East Valley, and even valley-wide and to not add a trauma facility, I think it's long overdue to the community," Welch said.
Welch also said emergency crews out of service time while transporting patients to Phoenix or Scottsdale will be reduced by at least half.
Moore also referred to what is known in the medical and emergency field as the "golden hour." The "golden hour" is the crucial 60 minutes right after a traumatic accident or event which can determine life or death for someone who has been critically hurt. Right now in Maricopa County, only 42 percent of patients make it to a level one trauma center within the hour. In Pinal County, just 10 percent make it to a level one trauma center within the hour.
"By having a level one trauma center in the East Valley, we can increase those percentages significantly," Moore adds.
The last level one trauma center designation in the Valley was in 2008, when Phoenix Children's Hospital was given their provisional status and was fully accredited in August 2009.
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