(12/24/2001)
Level I trauma care may in jeopardy at Charleston Area Medical Center, the destination for most victims of trauma in Calhoun and the region. CEO David Ramsey said patients with less intensive trauma, like broken bones, should be sent elsewhere.

Ramsey said the number or orthopedic surgeons in southern West Virginia has continued to dwindle, like in Raleigh County all six ER orthopedic surgeons have left, placing a burden on CAMC's resources. There are not enough specialists to handle the total load.

Some of the problems are blamed on malpractice insurance.

If CAMC cannot maintain Level I trauma care, southern West Virginia patients may have to be sent to out-of-state facilities like Roanoke, Virginia or Columbus, Ohio. A system of referral for southern counties would have to be created, officials indicated.

A decision on CAMC's trauma center is expected by January 1.

Meanwhile, Jackson General Hospital closed its obstetrics unit Saturday, with the closing to affect 11 nurses. The hospital no longer has a specialist. Putnam County Hospital closed their OB unit on December 6, blaming the high cost of malpractice insurance.


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