Usually, elected officials are lobbying for increased medical care options in their communities, but Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff is taking the opposite tactic, and urging public opposition to a study by the co-parent company of Methodist Health Care on whether they should open a trauma center in San Antonio, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
Wolff says the city has two Level 1 trauma centers, at BAMC and at University Hospital.
He says he is afraid that an additional trauma center in the city would siphon patients away from BAMC, and that would lead to the Army not getting the steady flow of shooting and accident victims that are needed to properly train battlfield doctors.
“Any reduction that we send civilian trauma patients at BAMC would have a negative impact on military readiness,” Wolff says.
He says that would lead to two outcomes. First, it could mean a lack of military readiness, and fewer of the innovations which have led to the rate of military personnel who die from battlefield wounds today to be by far the lowest ever. Everything from airlife helicopters to MASH units to the use of anesthetics in the field was pioneered by military physicians.
“This would ultimately roll back the dramatic improvements that have recently been made in military combat care and mortality rates.
”But Wolff says the impact could be even greater on San Antonio. He says if the Army sees its flow of patients into BAMC’s emergency room slow to a trickle, the decision may be made to remove military training from San Antonio, which was a major aspect of the 2005 round of base closings which provided a major boost to the city’s biomedical industry, helping make it the largest employer in the metro area.
“All military medicine training happens right here in San Antonio, for all of them,” he said. “This has become a critical, critical part for our community.”
Wolff says he has been told that Nashville-based HCA, which along with Methodist Healthcare Ministries each own 50% of Methodist, will make a joint decision in June on whether to invest in a trauma center in the city.