New Burn Unit Feels Like Home

9 years 3 months 23 hours ago September 10, 2007 Sep 10, 2007 Monday, September 10 2007 Monday, September 10, 2007 2:06:17 AM CDT in News

"After being here for ten weeks I actually felt like this was my home," patient Michael Nolte said.

Nolte was admitted into the burn unit after he suffered severe burns on much of his body in a rear-end collision that caused the car he was in to burst into flames. He was impressed by his care even before the new ICU burn unit opened a couple of weeks ago.

"I tell my patients a lot that you don't get extra points for being in pain and we really do try to live up to that," director James Kraatz said.

But the addition of an ICU unit to the already existing burn center is in stark contrast to what is happening across the country. Nationally, burn centers have been closing in record numbers, leaving only 127 fully equipped burn centers currently in the U.S.

Health officials say burn units are hard to maintain and often cost hospitals a lot because they need to be staffed with highly specialized doctors. They also say the downward trend could mean catastrophe if any large-scale attack or natural disaster hits.

For people like Nolte, though, the distance between home and places like Kansas City and the University Hospital unit in Columbia doesn't matter.

"Yes, granted, they are going to be a great distance from their home, but this is really where they are going to get the best care and thus allow people to be able to get home much quicker than if they were somewhere else," Kraatz said.

The new burn unit, which opened Sept. 28, has 14 larger-than-average rooms, a state-of-the-art operating room, and specialized rehabilitation and treatment rooms.

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