MERRILLVILLE | The Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority has started to accept proposals from contractors who want to prepare feasibility studies gauging the need for a trauma center and academic medical center in Northwest Indiana.
The RDA move follows a legislative directive to study the feasibility of an academic medical center and trauma center within Lake and Porter counties.
Right now, there are neither. Local trauma patients often are transferred to hospitals in Chicago, Oak Lawn, Fort Wayne or Indianapolis for care.
Senate Bill 585, known as the "Gary bill," included funding for a feasibility study.
The statute calls for the RDA to study whether statistics of injuries in Northwest Indiana justify the placement of one or more trauma centers and what the appropriate level of service should be.
A Level 1 trauma center, for example, offers the most extensive level of care and is staffed by highly trained medical staff.
The statute also calls for the RDA to measure the feasibility of creating an academic medical center in Northwest Indiana.
The request for proposals, which is linked in full on the RDA website, outlines the information being sought, such as the locations of nearby trauma centers, a projection of trauma care demand and the impact of the Affordable Care Act and commentary on whether an academic medical center would alleviate access disparities that currently exist.
RDA Executive Director Bill Hanna said a group of community leaders and stakeholders worked with an outside person to form a scope for the request for proposals.
Hanna said he is not aware of how much competition there will be for the contract.
"This will be our first sense of what the market is," he said.
Proposals must be submitted by 3 p.m. Oct. 25. The contract is scheduled to be awarded Jan. 3.