Trauma facility unlikely for county

Nearly 2,000 trauma patients are transported out of San Mateo County for treatment each year because there is no critical-care center, according to San Mateo county health officials, but transporting patients is more cost-effective than building a new facility.

Registered nurse Jan Ogar, a clinic services manager for San Mateo County emergency services, said the county works closely with San Francisco General Hospital and Stanford Hospital to treat critical patients.

“Stanford is practically at our southern border,” Ogar said. “And S.F. General [Hospital] is just over our northern border. There are two Level 1 centers very close to our population. It’s quite adequate for our treatment and very cost-effective.”

According to Ogar, a Level 1 trauma center — which means specialists are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week to handle the most critical emergencies — in the county would not make financial or geographical sense.

The state sets requirements for a Level 1 trauma center per 350,000 people in surrounding areas. But San Mateo County’s close proximity to Stanford Hospital on the Santa Clara County border and San Francisco General Hospital to the north would be redundant and costly.

“There are a lot of requirements for Level 1 centers,” she said. “You need surgeons on staff at all times, specialty [operating room] staff on call 24/7, trained personnel in multiple areas and specialty-care physicians available on very short notice.”

San Mateo County has five hospitals or medical centers that treat patients for a variety of medical reasons.

Ogar said to treat patients and then transport them to a trauma center would just delay care.

To maintain a Level 1 center, Ogar said roughly 1,200 patients would need to be treated a year.

In the past two months, Ogar said as many as 80 patients have been transported to San Francisco General. Last year, an average of 100 patients per month were transported to Stanford Hospital.

According to San Francisco General, more than 3,000 patients from The City and San Mateo County were treated by the hospital in 2003. Stanford estimates 1,900 patients from San Mateo and Santa Clara counties are treated each year.

Peninsula Health Care District CEO Cheryl Fama said the cost to maintain high-quality care compared to the volume of patients in the county is not worth it.

Instead, Peninsula Health Care is partnering with Mills-Peninsula Medical Center to build a new $600 million hospital to treat less-pressing patients. It will not have a trauma center, but will have a helipad to allow for transportation.

The new hospital, located across the street from the existing hospital, is expected to be completed in November.

Fiscal concerns

San Mateo County contemplated building a trauma center rather than transporting patients to nearby hospitals.

80 Patients transported to San Francisco General Hospital in March and April

100 Patients transported monthly to Stanford Hospital

1,200 Patients needed to maintain a Level 1 trauma center

5 Hospitals on the Peninsula

0 Trauma centers in San Mateo County

Source: San Mateo County Emergency Services

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