Is a Level 1 Trauma Center in the Future for the Rio Grande Valley?

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After a traumatic injury, medical experts say you need to seek treatment within what’s known as the ‘Golden Hour’ in order to survive.

“If you don’t get to the hospital within that Golden Hour, you’ve died, or you will suffer catastrophic life debilitating injuries because you were not treated on time.” Says State Representative Terry Canales.

In the RGV there are no Level 1 Trauma Centers capable of treating patients in need of urgent care.  Dr. Carlos Cardenas, Chairman of Doctors Hospital at Renaissance, says whether by ambulance or helicopter making it to the nearest Level 1 Trauma Center in San Antonio is putting lives at risk.

“It’s 240 miles away to the closest one. In the best of the best circumstances to try and make it in an hour is very difficult to do.”

Representative Canales says bringing Level 1 Trauma care to the Valley is a statewide issue and would strengthen the state’s trauma network. After meeting with Valley leaders in the medical community, Canales wrote a letter to Governor Greg Abbott. It was signed by the RGV delegation requesting funding.

“When the governor has responded saying we’re going to get you the trauma level one money that you need, I think it’s on the horizon, I think it’s a reality, I think it’s going to happen.”

Representative Canales adds it would take an initial investment between $10 to $15 million dollars. The hope is that the Level 1 Trauma Center would be self-sustaining.

Dr. Cardenas says once funding is secured it would take a two-year process for recruiting and certification, but he says DHR is already walking down the pathway.

“We’ve been recruiting the individuals to build our bench we have depth in our bench in neurosurgery in orthopedic trauma in pediatric subspecialties.”

Dr. Cardenas says this initiative goes beyond trauma care. It would bring scientific researchers, physician scientists, and an entire realm of medical specialties to the RGV and research show those doctors are likely to stay and practice in the Valley.

“Everybody that we’ve talked to see’s what we see. I think with that vision which I think is quite clear, that we need to move forward and make this happen in the Rio Grande Valley.”

Dr. Cardenas says he is optimistic of this happening this legislative session, something Canales says the RGV Delegation has untied to fight for.

Terry Canales, “I think they understand that I think they are on board and by all indications we will have Level 1 Trauma Care in the Rio Grande Valley.”

Dr. Cardenas adds, less than one percent of all medical research has been done on Hispanics. Specifically Mexican-Americans and a Level 1 Trauma Center in the Rio Grande Valley would bring researchers to the region to study effect on the local population.

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