Find out why two Jackson hospitals pay millions so they don’t have to treat trauma patients in ERs

Published 1:58 pm Thursday, September 12, 2019

Jim Craig, who directs health protection for the state and coordinates emergency preparedness, including the trauma fund, said choosing to participate at a lower level boils down to an economic decision for hospitals, but added that the penalty fee helps the system overall.

“Three million dollars is a good amount of money. It helps support the trauma care system, so it is part of our funding formula right now to have that revenue to be able to take care of trauma patients in Mississippi,” he told WLBT as a part of an ongoing emergency medical care series. “It would need to come from there or from another source.”

“What the system contemplates is that if you have the resources to participate as … a Level 1, 2, or 3 you either have to participate or you have to pay a non-participation fee so that those that are taking your burden — your community obligation to take care of trauma patients — they’re taking that burden for you, (they) can then use that funding,” he said.

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“We keep it very simple. Level 2 hospitals are those that in addition to Level 3 requirements have neurosurgical coverage. If you are a hospital that has sufficient physicians to provide 24/7 neurosurgical coverage, advertise 24/7 neurosurgical coverage to the public or have a call schedule that shows that you are accomplishing 24/7 neurosurgical coverage then you’ll be assessed to be a Level 2,” he added.

“It’s that easy … it’s really a business decision for the facility and we respect that.”

C.J. LeMaster, WLBT-TV’s chief investigative reporter, contributed to this story.

Erica Hensley, a native of Atlanta, has been working as an investigative reporter for Mississippi Today since May 2018.