Emergency Care at King Hospital

Thanks for the insightful column by Robert J. Schlegel ("King Hospital Turned Corner," Opinion, Jan. 7).

In my capacity as an Emergency Medical Services Commission commissioner, I rode with a city paramedic supervisor on New Year's Eve. We visited Martin Luther King Hospital's emergency room early in the evening and observed the truly heroic efforts of the doctors and nurses on duty.

King suffers from the policy of diversion put into effect when other area trauma centers started closing during the past two years. Diversion means that paramedic ambulance operators must get on their radio and find a hospital willing to take their critically ill or injured patient. When we arrived at King at approximately 7 p.m., the emergency room was jammed.

Dr. Jonathan Wasserberger showed me an 8-month-old patient with pneumonia who couldn't be transferred out of the emergency room because they had not located a facility for her as of that time.

One particularly harried emergency room physician had me listen as he took one more incoming paramedic call. The physician, already busy, listened as the paramedic described the patient's condition. The paramedic then said that all emergency rooms were on diversion and that he would like to transport to King. The doctor told him to bring in the patient.

It was a good illustration of a critical problem that both King and our city face. I observed that nearly all the victims of accidents and shootings who we attended (or heard on the radio) were transported to King.

Schlegel is correct. King has a good trauma facility. And dedicated workers. Just pray that it isn't overtaxed when you are transported there. Our city, county and state need to support King Hospital and all of the emergency rooms in our trauma system.



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