Advertisement

Trauma center flap requires a mediator

September 02, 2002|by BOB MAGINNIS

Today is the day Washington County Hospital officials had hoped to re-open the local trauma center, closed since June 1 after the hospital couldn't get enough doctors to agree to cover all the shifts. For the safety of the public and the integrity of the statewide system, it's now time to bring in an outside mediator.

The issues behind the shutdown of the trauma center are numerous and interconnected. One is that reimbursement rates from insurance companies and Medicare have fallen, making it more difficult for local trauama surgeons, all of who have private practices, to keep providing as much free care as they had in the past.

Two weeks ago in Annapolis, a group led by Maryland House Speaker Cas Taylor forged a compromise. All agreed the center would reopen with a Level III designation, which would mean that doctors could be on call without having to be on site, which was required when it was a Level II center.

Advertisement

The hospital agreed to absorb the cost of increased compensation until the legislature could provide additional money, perhaps by putting a surcharge on auto insurance policies or on traffic citations.

But there are other issues, because now that officials are taking a greater interest in solving the problems, other groups within the medical community are asking for help, and no group's problems are exactly the same. A further complication: The trauma center's director, Dr. Marc Kross, has resigned, and no one has been named to replace him.

To sort out all this, we suggest that the system seek help from someone who has medical knowledge and administrative experience.

One possibility: John Ashworth, director of the Baltimore Shock Trauma Center, who's been involved in the system since it began and who's familiar with Hagerstown's problems. Ashworth or someone similar, who knows the trauma system from the medical and adminstrative sides, is the right prescription for what ails this part of the system.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|