San Antonio (April 13, 2004) – The leaders of institutions operating San Antonio’s three Level I trauma centers and the president of The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio recently announced the formation of the Trauma Institute of San Antonio, Texas (TRISAT), an innovative and intensive project to more effectively marshal the region’s Level I trauma resources. University Hospital, Wilford Hall Medical Center and Brooke Army Medical Center receive the most seriously injured patients from 71 emergency medical services (EMS) agencies and 30 hospitals located in a 22-county region of South/Central Texas.
TRISAT funding is from a $2.1 million congressional appropriation made possible in large part by the leadership of U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas. Making the announcement April 6 at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio were Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., president of the Health Science Center; Jeff Turner, president and CEO of the University Health System; Brig. Gen. Charles Bruce Green, M.D., commander, 59th Medical Wing, Wilford Hall Medical Center, Lackland Air Force Base; Brig. Gen. C. William Fox, M.D., commanding general, Brooke Army Medical Center and the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research; and Ronald M. Stewart, M.D., associate professor of surgery at the Health Science Center, director of trauma services at the University Health System and chairman of TRISAT’s board of directors.
“We are here today to improve one of our nation’s most precious assets – the Level I trauma services provided at Brooke Army Medical Center, Wilford Hall Medical Center, University Hospital and the U.S. Army Institute for Surgical Research by personnel in military and academic medicine,” Dr. Cigarroa said. “We thank Sen. Hutchison for her efforts on behalf of San Antonio and South Texas trauma patients who cannot speak for themselves and who will continue to receive the quality care they need when they need it.”
Wilford Hall Medical Center and Brooke Army Medical Center operate the only Level I trauma centers in the U.S. Department of Defense. As such, the military depends on them to train thousands of physicians for trauma service readiness during wartime. “Trauma injuries are the closest thing to what a soldier encounters on the battlefield,” Gen. Fox said. “Health care professionals gain valuable training experience that saves the lives of military personnel engaged in the global war on terrorism.”
Gen. Green echoed these sentiments, noting: “The trauma care in San Antonio is second to none and clearly prepares Air Force surgeons for their wartime missions.”
“Due to the unpredictable nature of trauma, life-saving services must be readily available at all times,” Turner said. “This is particularly challenging when you take into consideration today’s health care funding crisis and the massive size of the trauma region we serve. This formalized partnership strengthens our ability to respond to the immediate needs of trauma victims.”
A Level I trauma center provides “comprehensive trauma care, serves as a regional resource, and provides leadership in education, research, and system planning,” according to guidelines from the American College of Surgeons (ACS). A Level I center is required to have immediate availability of trauma surgeons, anesthesiologists, physician specialists, nurses and resuscitation equipment. Texas has 12 Level I centers.