Mississippi's statewide trauma network was created in the aftermath of Gov. Kirk Fordice's wreck in north Mississippi back in the mid 1990s. It has helped countless victims of car accidents, heart attacks and other trauma situations get the care they need at bigger hospitals, where more medical specialists are on hand. But now the network faces its own emergency.
"That's my understanding, that it's $32 million that the trauma system needs," said Ima Dearman of Stone County Hospital.
Dearman sees first-hand how important the statewide trauma network is. She's a trauma registrar at Stone County Hospital in Wiggins.
"We've had several incidents at our hospital where if it wasn't for the trauma system, the outcome could have been very, very severe for the patient and their family," Dearman said.
Currently the network is funded by taking a portion of the money raised through speeding tickets. A proposal raised through the governor's task force for trauma asks for a $5.00 increase per ticket plus a portion of seat belt fines set aside for the trauma network.
And so hospitals across the state look to keep the network running through a funding increase, because in trauma care every second counts.
Dearman says the trauma network has helped Stone County Hospital transfer patients to facilities in Jackson, Hattiesburg, even Mobile, Ala. She says it's all about getting a critical patient to the best care as quickly as possible.
"When they are not treated in an appropriate factor, their survival is not guaranteed," Dearman said.
The governor's task force on trauma is made up of state senators and representatives, as well as the chancellor of University Medical Center, Dr. Jim Keaton. Rep. George Flaggs says the committee is currently looking for way to directly fund the network. The committee plans to meet Monday.