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It’s not often that a hospital sends out an SOS, but last November, Saint Francis Medical Center in Cape Girardeau, Mo., found itself in desperate need of a few extra trauma surgeons. One of its trauma physicians, who commutes from the Florida Keys, had to have emergency surgery and was unavailable for a couple of months. So Rob Grayhek, Saint Francis’ director of trauma and disaster services, sent a request to a number of Missouri hospitals to fill the holes in their trauma service. Julie Nash, RN, Barnes-Jewish Hospital’s manager of trauma and acute care services, Douglas Schuerer, MD, trauma medical director, and Grant Bochicchio, MD, chief of acute and critical care surgery for Washington University School of Medicine, were eager for their team to offer assistance.

For this outreach effort, help came in the form of Kareem Husain, MD, one of the trauma surgeons that make up the Section of Acute and Critical Care Surgery in Washington University’s Department of Surgery. Husain, who did not have a clinical shift to cover that day, was happy to oblige.

The medical center was able to get Husain St. Francis credentials quickly, allowing him to be on staff for the day. “In Missouri, we frequently work with multiple hospitals on time critical diagnosis and trauma-related injuries. We’re incredibly blessed as a state to have a number of hospitals performing at such high levels that, between local physicians and a few from other area hospitals, it wasn’t too difficult to fill the shifts,” says Grayhek.

During the 24-hour period, there was a spleen injury and a spinal injury. The patient with the spinal injury was referred to Barnes-Jewish for additional treatment. “This was particularly interesting for me, because I’m usually on the receiving end of the referrals. This time I was the one calling for the transfer,” says Husain.

According to Husain, the entire experience was rewarding. “The hospital was beautiful, the people were kind and attentive, and there was a great team atmosphere between the nurses and other surgeons. I was very impressed with the level of service from the attending level on down.”

Husain’s visit to Saint Francis helped establish a stronger relationship between the hospitals. Shortly after Husain returned, Michael Heid, DO, medical director of trauma services at Saint Francis, came to St. Louis for a rib-plating course taught by Husain and his partners, and sponsored by Synthes, Inc. Heid also plans to come to Barnes-Jewish to learn how to perform a percutaneous tracheostomy.

“This is a great way to share information and experience with other hospitals. I would go back to help again in a heartbeat,” says Husain.

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