Indiana health officials have concluded from their statewide listening tour that Indiana needs more trauma centers. We've been making that point for years.
Trauma centers exist in Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, South Bend and Evansville -- but not in Northwest Indiana. Major trauma cases here are shipped to South Bend or Chicago.
What's different this time, we hope, is that State Health Commissioner Greg Larkin and members of Indiana Department of Health's Trauma and Injury Prevention Division are building a strong case for helping Indiana develop what 41 other states already have -- a statewide trauma system.
Doing this right requires moral and financial commitments.
The moral commitment should be easy.
"As many as 35 percent of trauma patients will die because optimal acute care is not available," Michael McGee, chief of emergency medicine at Methodist Hospital, told the Indiana General Assembly's Health Finance Commission last month.
The commission has agreed to a feasibility study on a new teaching and trauma hospital in Northwest Indiana.
Credit should go to state Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, state Sen. Earline Rogers, D-Gary, and others who persuaded the commission to use existing funds for this study.
In 2011, the General Assembly set aside about $3 million for architectural and engineering work on a proposed hospital at Indiana University Northwest. Proving the need for that hospital, though, is a necessary first step.
Meanwhile, heed the advice Larkin has after the statewide listening tour. That includes combining the EMS program, currently at the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, with the trauma program at the state health department. The two are closely related.
It would be irresponsible for the state that has the most interstate highway miles, enough to justify the "crossroads of America" motto, to continue to shy away from creating a statewide trauma care system.
How much this will cost, and who should fund it, remains to be determined. The Indiana General Assembly should applaud Larkin's initiative and set up its own study committee to map out how this trauma system might work.
Proving the need should be relatively easy. Working out the operational details might take some time, however, so get started now.