Rural hospitals get trauma care training

Kurt Hauglie/Daily Mining Gazette Dr. Kim Smith of Aspirus Ontonagon Memorial Hospital works on a training mannequin during the Comprehensive Advanced Rural Life Support training program in June at Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital.

LAURIUM — Rural hospitals see many of the same kinds of trauma seen in metropolitan hospitals, but they also get some trauma more specific to rural areas, and that was the focus of a two-day training workshop in mid-June at Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital.

The Comprehensive Advanced Rural Life Support training program based in Minnesota was presented to staff for the four Aspirus System hospitals in the western Upper Peninsula; Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital (AKH), the host for the program, Aspirus Ontonagon Memorial Hospital, Aspirus Iron River Hospital and Aspirus Ironwood Hospital.

At the training were doctors, nurses and emergency medical service personnel.

Dr. Mike Wilcox, who was one of the instructors for the program at Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital, was one of the originators of the program. He said the idea behind the creation of the CALS program was to help rural health care providers develop a team approach to care.

“Having a team approach to handle emergencies is very important,” he said.

Kurt Hauglie/Daily Mining Gazette Dr. Terry Johnson of First Light Hospital in Mora, Minnesota, explains the use of a piece of medical equipment during the Comprehensive Advanced Rural Life Support training program at Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital.

Working with Wilcox was paramedic Bill Tierney with Devine Savior Healthcare in Portage, Wisconsin, who said he thinks medical personnel can gain valuable experience taking the course.

“It’s extremely valuable for rural areas throughout the country,” he said.

Working with the CALS program to present the training to Michigan rural hospitals was the Michigan Center for Rural Health based in East Lansing, Michigan, according to Emma Smythe, MCRH rural health programs coordinator.

Smythe said AKH is the sixth health care system in the state with which the organization has worked, and the first time it has been in the western Upper Peninsula.

“It’s an education program that’s offered to rural hospitals,” she said.

Although many of the traumas seen in rural hospitals are the same as in a big city, Smythe said some of them may be different, such as all-terrain vehicle or snowmobile accidents, animal-caused traumas, or farm accidents.

Smythe said the MCRH works with all 36 critical access hospitals in Michigan. A critical access hospital is one in a rural area with 26 or fewer beds.

The emergency scenarios were conducted in three rooms in the birthing center at Aspirus Keweenaw. In one scenario Wilcox and Tierney were presenting with a mannequin representing a woman who had swallowed many pills and had attempted to hang herself. In another room was a presentation about how to properly install devices to help patients breathe, and in the third room was a presentation about a child with an asthma attack.

Grace Tousignant, Aspirus UP Regional Nursing supervisor, said the CALS training is different from the training the staff has already had in that it is a team concept.

“These two days, they’re doing it as a team,” she said.

Tousignant said the staff were learning to use equipment they have in new ways, which is very helpful.

Janet Rozich, paramedic with Mercy EMS, said she was very impressed with the CALS training.

“I’m actually really enjoying it,” she said.

She learned new treatment strategies she hadn’t performed before, Rozich said.

Rozich said she will recommend the course to her co-workers.

“If they ever get a chance to take it, they certainly should,” she said.