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Lawmaker: Trauma centers can't lose funding

January 21, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
A Southland congresswoman said recent shootings prove that the region can't afford to lose any trauma centers. Congresswoman Jane Harman (D-Venice) said the school shooting in the Los Angeles area this week and the Arizona shooting are haunting reminders of why level 1 trauma centers are vital. She promises to fight to keep them funded.

When two students were shot at Gardena High School earlier this week, they were rushed to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center for treatment-- one of only four level 1 trauma centers in Los Angeles County.

"Those kids were brought here because we have the resources and the experience to provide the right care to patients with such injuries. We'll give them the finest care available," said Dr. Gail Anderson, chief medical officer of Harbor Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.

Trauma doctors and nurses in Tucson, Ariz. have been praised for their fast work and skills in saving the life of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

On Friday, Harman visited Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, where construction is underway that will double the hospital's capacity to treat emergency patients.

Harman said this week's vote by the House of Representatives to repeal the healthcare reform law could take critically-needed resources away from trauma facilities.

"I think it is critical and I'm sure you all agree that we resist any effort to reduce or defund support for level 1 trauma centers," said Harman.

Harman said Harbor-UCLA is already over capacity. The new facility will provide nearly 200,000 square feet of hospital space, including 16 new operating rooms.

"Some good must come out of the horrific events at Tucson and at Gardena High," said Harman. "And maintaining and improving facilities at Harbor-UCLA is a concrete way of saying our community is prepared."

Harman said she also plans to reintroduce legislation that will streamline the certification process for returning military emergency medical technicians. That could help the highly-skilled workers find jobs at trauma centers.