October 12, 2001

San Diego Hospital Trauma Directors Help Mexican Physicians Establish Trauma Centers in Baja California Hospitals

Plans for the first trauma center, to be established in a Baja California hospital, are now underway—made possible with leadership and assistance from several San Diego hospital Trauma Center Directors, and the UCSD Border Health Education Network.

Lead trauma and emergency room nurses (and a doctor) working together on a cooperative basis for training and education purposes at the Binational Conference of Nurses held last week at Scripps Mercy Hospital.

Mexican government authorities have recently approved the establishment of a trauma center in the Hospital General de Tijuana, located on the San Diego-Mexican border, and plans are under review for the establishment of a trauma center in the Hospital General de Mexicali. Physicians are also consulting with government authorities about the development of a trauma system for the entire Baja California region and throughout Mexico.

UCSD's Border Health Education Network has worked for the past two years to improve trauma and emergency services, on a bilateral basis, through the organization of training programs and conferences for physicians, nurses, and pre-hospital responders on both sides of the San Diego-Mexico Border. These training programs have brought trauma and emergency specialists together to share information and discuss ways to improve the coordination of services on a cross-border basis.

As a result, physicians from Baja California have been working closely with San Diego County trauma directors, and have participated in mini-residency training programs at UCSD Medical Center, Scripps Mercy Hospital, and Sharp Memorial Hospital. Dr. David Hoyt, Director of Trauma—UCSD Medical Center, Dr. Michael Sise, Director of Trauma—Scripps Mercy Hospital, and Dr. Frank Kennedy, Director of Trauma—Sharp Memorial Hospital are the leaders of this initiative.

Trauma and emergency services are critically important in the California/Baja California border region, because the region is highly populated and mobile, and the fact that trauma and emergency services provide immediate care for accident victims and patients with urgent care needs. In addition, hospital emergency rooms often provide medical services for indigent patients who have no other access to healthcare services.

One of the participating physicians is Dr. Sergio Mas-careño, General Surgeon, Hospital General de Tijuana. "Due to the large number of border area residents that cross the California-Baja California border, it is necessary to create a trauma system in all of the Mexican border cities," he said. "The system that exists in California has proven its effectiveness. Given the necessity of trauma centers, we have participated in binational medical and prehospital training programs and conferences that have provided us with an opportunity to share experiences with our counterparts on both sides of the border," he stated.

"The course objectives have been to familiarize Mexican medical personnel with the trauma system in San Diego," he continued. "Our next step is to involve Mexican governmental authorities in the formation of a trauma system. The foundation is in place—what is needed now is an organizational structure for treating traumatized patients in the most optimal and effective manner to benefit the entire border region."

Another participating physician, Dr. Jose Mayagoitia, General Surgeon and Chief of Staff at the Hospital General de Mexicali adds, "Trauma is a major issue in my community, as it is in basically every major city in the world. Having the chance to learn from other people, who have gone through the whole process of organizing and getting things working, will benefit us in such a way that we hope not to make the same mistakes," he said. "In the future, we hope to adapt our government hospital in a network of trauma centers (in Mexico) that will hopefully be as effective as the one in San Diego County."

"Our first step," he continued, "was to establish a single phone number for all types of emergencies. The next step will be to distribute the trauma patients according to the capabilities of each facility. This effort will be supported by the state and municipal governments and by the diverse health institutions in our community," he said.

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