PROVIDENCE, RI - In an effort to improve the nation's emergency medical care system, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) today joined Rhode Island Hospital (RIH) President and CEO Joseph Amaral and Dr. Charles Adams, Jr., a trauma surgeon at the hospital, in discussing efforts to improve trauma care in Rhode Island and at hospitals nationwide.

"Trauma care systems save lives and improve patient outcomes. It is essential that our first responders and medical professionals have the tools necessary to plan and coordinate a strategy to ensure that severely injured patients receive the best possible care," said Reed, a member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. "Trauma care is not only critical to providing timely access to lifesaving interventions, it is central to our national security and disaster preparedness. It is an essential component of our health care system."

Last month, President Bush signed Reed's Trauma Care Systems Planning and Development Act of 2007 (P.L. 110-23) into law. This $60 million initiative will help upgrade the nation's trauma centers by providing grants to states and hospitals for the planning, implementation, and development of trauma care systems. It authorizes $12 million this year and doubles funding levels through 2012 to help more local communities establish statewide and regional trauma systems.

"This legislation will help improve and expand the availability of trauma care across the country and ensure that more communities are equipped with appropriate emergency medical services, thus improving the survival rate for severely injured patients," noted Reed.

Senator Reed's legislation, which was sponsored in the House of Representatives by Congressman Gene Green (D-TX) will also improve collection and analysis of trauma data by creating a Clearinghouse on Trauma Care and Emergency Medical Services. By gathering statistics and creating a standard way to measure outcomes, health officials and first responders can identify problems and work to address them.

Over, 2,800 people were treated at Rhode Island Hospital's Trauma Center last year. And the hospital is expected to treat over 3,000 patients in the coming year. RIH is southeastern New England's only Level-1 Trauma Center, providing expert staff and equipment in emergency situations 24 hours a day.

Joseph Amaral, MD, president and CEO of Rhode Island Hospital, said, "Whether it be a tragic fire or an epidemic, Rhode Island Hospital's emergency department and hospitals across the country are truly at the core of trauma systems and must be ready at any time to address the needs of our communities. We are so grateful to Senator Reed for recognizing the importance of trauma systems in today's world and the recognition of hospitals' vital roles in that system."