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Methodist takes steps to become region’s first trauma center

President Interim CEO Methodist Hospitals Dr. Michael Davenport discusses priorities thwere set for 2013  The Genesis Centerl May 2

President and Interim CEO of Methodist Hospitals, Dr. Michael Davenport discusses the priorities that were set for 2013 at The Genesis Centerl on May 2, 2014. | Jim Karczewsk/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: June 4, 2014 6:14AM



GARY — Changes are in store for Methodist Hospitals, particularly at the Northlake campus, as it celebrates its 91st year.

Methodist Hospitals Northlake will apply for certification as a Level 3 trauma center this fall, and if it is approved, it will be the first one in Northwest Indiana.

“We already operate at that level, and we’ve been doing it for a long time,” said Methodist president and interim CEO Michael Davenport in his state of the organization address Friday at the Genesis Convention Center. “We know we’re good at it, but what we really need is a Level I, at the very least Level II, trauma center. We’re getting this as a precursor when Rep. Charlie Brown delivers a Level 1 center.”

Franciscan Alliance hospitals also are applying for the certification. Currently, patients with traumatic injuries, such as gunshots or stab wounds, are often transported to hospitals in Illinois.

Level III centers require general surgeons to be on staff and can provide “prompt assessment, resuscitation, surgery, intensive care and stabilization of injured patients and emergency operations,” according to the American Trauma Society.

Shelly Major, Methodist’s chief nursing officer, said obtaining certification is an involved process, but hospital officials hope to submit an application to the state by the fall. The state will take about two months to determine whether or not to grant approval.

“There’s a lot of paperwork involved — data collection, standards and regulations, education, dedicated physicians, a call schedule,” Major said.

Methodist plans to break ground on a renovation of its Northlake emergency department this year, which will more than double the number of beds, lower wait times and improve patient privacy. Major said it isn’t required to gain the certification, but it will be help prepare the facility for the demands of certification.

In addition, all Northlake patient rooms will be renovated, a new orthopedic and spine center will be established at the Midlake campus on 25th Avenue in Gary, and a three-story medical office building is being developed for Northlake, which will likely break ground in 2015.

“We need more capacity because of the need our community has, for example, when it comes to blood pressure and congestive heart failure,” Davenport said.

Davenport said that being attuned to community needs has been key for the hospital from its beginnings in May 1923.

“We at Methodist think it’s more important to be a part of community,” Davenport said. “We want to be good neighbors and be integrated with the communities we serve.”

Dr. Katrina Wright, president of Methodist’s medical staff, and Denise Dillard, senior consultant for government and external relations, focused on the ways Methodist promotes health outside the hospital.

“We realize patients spend most of their lives outside the hospital, and they need education and assistance on how to keep in good health and prevent chronic conditions,” Wright said. “We’re serious about outreach to providers, and we offer screenings and classes.”

Dillard mentioned health screenings at the YMCA in Valparaiso and senior health education at the Gary YWCA. The hospital sees the effects of violence in its emergency department every day, and nurses are taking those stories to local high school students.

Much of the focus on the Affordable Care Act has been on the insurance exchanges and Medicaid expansion, but Davenport believes there’s a larger premise at work.

“It’s about the health and well-being of our country,” Davenport said. “The idea that we as a nation will be helped and, with better outcomes, we will save money. I think we can all agree that’s a good goal.”



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