McAllen City Commission set to consider legislative efforts by Med Care EMS and Doctors Hospital at Renaissance (DHR Health) to provide emergency preparedness funding to strengthen Texas and Rio Grande Valley Trauma Network
By DAVID A. DÍAZ
State legislation to provide emergency preparedness funding to strengthen and reinforce the Texas Trauma Network and to ensure that Rio Grande Valley hospitals and emergency medical care providers have the capacity and capability to adequately respond in times of disaster is scheduled to receive political support from the McAllen City Commission on Monday, September 10, 2018.
That legislative goal, which is proposed in the form of a city resolution, will acted upon during the city commission’s regular meeting, which begins at 5 p.m. at the City Commission Chambers, located on the third floor of McAllen City Hall, 1300 W. Houston Avenue.
The Monday, September 10, 2018 meeting of the McAllen City Commission, with the exception of executive session items, is open to the public.
Access to the appropriate level of medical care during the first 60 minutes of a trauma (the “Golden Hour”) is critical to saving lives.
The leadership of Med Care EMS and Doctors Hospital at Renaissance (DRH Health) are working on having state legislation drafted for action by the 86th Texas Legislature, which begins its 140-day regular session in January 2019, to provide emergency preparedness trauma funding for areas such as the Gulf Coast, Houston, and the Rio Grande Valley to reinforce trauma capabilities and capacity.
A key component of Med Care EMS’ and DHR Health’s push for state funding to strengthen the Texas Trauma Network is to ensure that the Rio Grande Valley has the resources to bring a Level I Comprehensive Trauma Facility and other advanced emergency medical care resources to the region.
The Texas Trauma Network is made up of 288 designated trauma hospitals, first responders, and emergency medical service providers.
According to the proposed McAllen city resolution, of the top nine most populous regions in Texas, only the Rio Grande Valley lacks a Level I Comprehensive Trauma Facility.
In general, a Level I Comprehensive Trauma Facility is a regional resource that is a tertiary care facility central to the trauma system. A Level I Comprehensive Trauma Facility is capable of providing total care for every aspect of injury – from prevention through rehabilitation.
“THE NUMBER ONE ISSUE IS TRAUMA”
The resolution to be considered by the McAllen City Commission states that the Valley, with more than 1.5 million residents and which is one of the fastest growing areas in Texas, is located more than 240 miles away from the nearest Level I Comprehensive Trauma Facility, which is in San Antonio.
The Rio Grande Valley’s current population size and projected population growth over the next decade make establishing more advanced trauma facilities an imperative, according to data that is provided in the McAllen City Commission’s agenda packet.
“The number one issue is trauma,” said Roberto Haddad, Vice President and Counsel for Government Affairs and Policy at Doctors Hospital at Renaissance (DHR Health). “Texas has come a long way, our state has led the way in providing trauma funding and developing an extensive trauma network, but there is still a lot of work to be done.”
Other demographic highlights being distributed by DHR Health and Med Care EMS include:
- The Valley is currently home to 1.5 million residents and is one of the fastest growing regions of the state;
- The population has grown by approximately 20 percent since the 2010 census and is projected to add another 500,000 people by 2030 (40 percent growth); and
- Hidalgo County currently has close to one million residents and Cameron County has approximately 450,000 residents. Within the next decade, the RGV will have an estimated two million residents, necessitating higher level trauma capabilities in both Hidalgo and Cameron counties.
“As a region, we must support Level I Comprehensive Trauma Facilities legislation that commits resources for hospital facilities and emergency medical services,” said Paul M. Vazaldua, Jr., Legislative Affairs/Special Projects Director for Med Care EMS. “In our profession, we see first-hand how having this level of advanced life-saving resources right here in deep South Texas would benefit all of deep South Texas.”
Vazaldua said he “applauds the City of McAllen for publicly leading in the support, through the city resolution, for this statewide legislative effort, because McAllen’s endorsement will encourage all other cities in deep South Texas to do the same.”
Candelario Ontiveros is President/CEO of Med Care EMS in McAllen.
Med Care EMS holds transportation contracts for Doctors Hospital at Renaissance, South Texas Health System, Mission Regional Medical Center, and Knapp Medical Center.
“There are rural areas of the state and there are even metropolitan areas that do not have as much trauma capabilities as they need,” Haddad explained. “DHR Health is doing an awareness campaign, meeting with legislators, meeting with the other hospitals to see what we can do to have the state put up some money, a grant program, to help facilities across the state increase capacity and build on infrastructure to make sure the trauma center network is strengthened, so that when the next (Hurricane) Harvey, the next disaster, hits, we are well-prepared. South Texans should not ever go without timely access to high-level trauma facility.”
TEXAS HOSPITALS CARE FOR MORE THAN 120,000 TRAUMA PATIENTS ANNUALLY
The need for a Level I Comprehensive Trauma Facility is also needed to save lives in many situations, he added.
“No matter where you are in the state, if you are in a car accident, you should be minutes away from that high-level care you need to ensure that you survive,” Haddad said. “Otherwise, it could result in death or a life-long disability, versus a full recovery.”
Other reasons cited by supporters of the proposed McAllen City Commission resolution are:
- Texas hospitals care for more than 120,000 trauma patients annually and provide more than $253 million in uncompensated trauma care yearly. Despite the vast Texas Trauma Network, approximately 40 Texans die every day due to traumatic injuries (14,000+ deaths a year). Additionally, for every Texan that dies from a traumatic injury, at least six are injured. Texas can do more to reinforce its regional trauma capabilities; and
- Robust capabilities and capacity in the Trauma Network is especially important in times of disaster when existing facilities and providers can be forced offline or be quickly overwhelmed. Hurricanes Rita, Ike, and Harvey have highlighted the need to be proactive and make the needed investments in our trauma network’s infrastructure and capabilities before the next crisis; and
HURRICANE HARVEY SUPPLEMENTAL FUNDING PACKAGE EYED AS SOURCE FOR MONEY
Money is proposed to come from the Hurricane Harvey Supplemental Funding Package and create a grant program administered by the Texas Department of State Health Services to provide trauma facilities with the needed resources to invest in strengthening the trauma network.
Last year – on Friday, September 8, 2018 – President Trump signed federal legislation to provide billions of dollars to help communities, including those in Texas hard-hit in late August 2017 by Hurricane Harvey, which narrowly missed the Rio Grande Valley.
According to the American Trauma Society, elements of Level I Comprehensive Trauma Facilities include:
- 24-hour in-house coverage by general surgeons, and prompt availability of care in specialties such as orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, anesthesiology, emergency medicine, radiology, and internal medicine;
- Referral resource for communities in nearby regions;
- Provides leadership in prevention, public education to surrounding communities.
- Provides continuing education of the trauma team members
- Incorporates a comprehensive quality assessment program
- Operates an organized teaching and research effort to help direct new innovations in trauma care.
- Program for substance abuse screening and patient intervention; and
- Meets minimum requirement for annual volume of severely injured patients.
RESOLUTION IN SUPPORT OF STRENGTHENING THE TEXAS TRAUMA NETWORK
The text of the proposed McAllen city resolution follows:
WHEREAS, the Trauma Network in the State of Texas is comprised of 22 regions and includes 18 Level I Comprehensive Trauma Facilities, 21 Level II Major Trauma Facilities, 56 Level III Advanced Trauma Facilities and 193 Level IV Basic Trauma Facilities;
WHEREAS, Region V encompasses the Rio Grande Valley counties of Hidalgo, Cameron, Starr and Willacy and have a combined population of over 1.5 million residents and continues to be one of the fastest growing areas in the State of Texas;
WHEREAS, the Rio Grande Valley is situated along the Texas Gulf Coast and is therefore at risk of experiencing widespread and catastrophic flooding and damage which may pose significant threats to life and property due to tropical storms, hurricanes, and other inclement weather events;
WHEREAS, approximately 40 Texans die every day due to traumatic injuries, and for every Texan that dies from a traumatic injury, at least six are injured;
WHEREAS, studies show that access to the appropriate level of medical care during the first 60 minutes of trauma incident (the “Golden Hour”) is critical to saving lives and the American College of Surgeons recommends that each geographic region include a Level I or Level II trauma facility at its center and within a 30-minute transport time and have a Level I trauma facility per one million residents;
WHEREAS, approximately 25 percent of Texans live in a county not accessible to a Level I trauma facility, and the nearest Level I trauma facility to Region V of the Texas Trauma Network is located over 240 miles away;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that no Texan should ever go without timely access to the highest level of care when they need it, the City of McAllen hereby supports legislative efforts to make funding available to strengthen the Texas Trauma Network and ensuring the residents of the Rio Grande Valley have timely access to the highest level of care when facing a severe traumatic incident.
CONSIDERED, PASSED, APPROVED, AND SIGNED this 10th day of September, 2018, at a regular meeting of the Board of Commissioners, of the City of McAllen, Texas, at which a quorum was present and which was held pursuant to Chapter 551, Texas Government Code.
For more on this and other Texas legislative news stories which affect the Lower Rio Grande Valley metropolitan region, please log on to Titans of the Texas Legislature. For more information, please contact Paul M. Vazaldua, Jr., Legislative Affairs/Special Projects Director for Med Care EMS, at 956-668-9111, Roberto Haddad, Vice President and Counsel for Government Affairs and Policy at Doctors Hospital at Renaissance (DHR Health), or Jesse Ozuna, Government Affairs Officer at Doctors Hospital at Renaissance (DHR Health), at 956/362-7165.)