GARY | Data analyzed by Indiana University Northwest students show Northwest Indiana qualifies for a trauma center and that racial disparity exists in trauma patients.
A 10-member student research team compiled and analyzed information from area hospitals, with focus on trauma care in Northwest Indiana. The team was led by Samuel Flint, associate professor and associate director of the School of Public and Environmental Affairs in the College of Health and Human Services at IUN.
Their research was presented Tuesday as part of Public Affairs Week at Indiana University Northwest.
Trauma is physical damage to the body or emotional wound or shock, and a trauma center gives immediate care to people with disabling and life-threatening injuries, said Sylvia Tolliver, one of the student presenters.
Northwest Indiana has no trauma centers.
Trauma injuries kill 150,000 Americans every year. As many as 35 percent of trauma patients die because they do not have access to trauma care, said Dr. Michael McGee, an emergency physician and medical director of the emergency department at Methodist Hospitals Northlake Campus in Gary.
"Trauma centers are closing at an alarming rate," McGee said.
Forty-five million Americans do not have access to trauma care, he said.
The IUN students compared Gary to Newark, N.J., and Flint, Mich., and found similar demographics but underserved access to trauma centers. Newark and Flint have Level I and Level II trauma centers. The one nearest to Northwest Indiana is Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill.
Their data also show a disparity in who is affected by trauma.
"The data that we got shows that the African-American population is at a much higher risk than the rest of the population here in Northwest Indiana," said John Matusik, a student presenter. "African-Americans are 17 percent of the population but make up almost 55 percent of trauma patients."
The bulk of the incidents happened in Gary, Hammond, Hobart and Lake Station, their data show.
The lack of trauma centers is having a burden on hospital emergency rooms, McGee said.
Indiana ranks 44th in number of trauma centers.
Courtesy of The Times.