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Closure in Arcadia Shifts Trauma Care to Huntington

January 01, 1989|ERIC WILHELMUS | Times Staff Writer

Residents of Arcadia and most of Temple City who require emergency medical attention will be able to receive treatment at Pasadena's Huntington Memorial Hospital after Methodist Hospital in Arcadia closes its trauma center today.

However, under the plan devised by the county Department of Health Services, several San Gabriel Valley cities will be without trauma care as the new year begins. These cities are Sierra Madre, Bradbury, El Monte, Rosemead, Duarte and Monrovia.

Patient Load Increase

Although hospital officials estimate that including the two cities will increase the patient load at Huntington Memorial's trauma center by about a third, a spokesman said the additional patients will not burden the operation.

The Methodist Hospital's trauma center is slated to close today because its financial losses, due mostly to uninsured patients being unable to pay their medical bills, had grown to more than $1 million a year.

All of Arcadia will be included in Huntington Memorial's trauma unit coverage area. The only section of Temple City that will not have access to the trauma center is the area south of Lower Azusa Road, said Sharon Holey, administrative assistant of Los Angeles County's paramedic and trauma hospital programs. The area contains about 1% of the city's population.

She said this portion of the city was not included because the trains that traverse the area may interfere with transporting a patient to the hospital.

Sierra Madre could not be included because it doesn't have paramedic service, Holey said.

Because ambulances and emergency medical technicians do not have the required equipment or experience, the county requires a city to have paramedics if patients are driven past closer hospitals to a trauma center, she said.

Unlike a hospital emergency room, where surgical teams are available only on an on-call basis, a trauma center has a surgeon, anesthesiologist, operating room team and lab technicians present around the clock.

Excluded From Trauma Care

The remaining cities were excluded from receiving trauma care at Huntington Memorial "because we estimate the transport time from those cities exceeds our 20-minute transport time," Holey said.

Those who live in the excluded cities who require immediate medical attention will be taken to the nearest hospital, regardless of whether it has a trauma center, she said.

Huntington Memorial officials say the trauma center can handle the increased patient load that the two additional cities will bring.

The trauma center receives between 45 and 50 trauma cases a month and expects the number of patients to increase to 60 or 65 when it begins including the cities in its trauma coverage, said Maggie McPhillips, spokeswoman for Huntington Memorial.

"At this point we think we can handle it without a problem," she said.

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