In-state center needed to care for burn victims

Published 5:00 am Monday, March 26, 2007

Unlike firefighters who rush to save buildings on fire, someMississippi lawmakers appear to be in no rush to build an in-statefacility to care for anyone who may get burned in a fire.

Firefighters from across the state rallied at the Capitol lastweek to encourage lawmakers to approve legislation to construct aburn center in Mississippi.

Since the Firefighters Memorial Burn Center in Greenville closedits doors in 2005, the state does not have a facility to care forburn victims. Currently, Mississippi burn victims have to be sentout of state to centers where beds are available, which can meanpainful hours of waiting between the time of injury andtreatment.

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As a midnight Saturday budget bill filing deadline approached,though, Senate Public Health Committee Chairman Alan Nunnelee,R-Tupelo, seemed content to ”sit back and wait on theappropriation.”

House estimates placed facility construction costs atapproximately $10 million and yearly operational costs at around $4million, but there has been no funding set aside to build thecenter at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Nunneleesaid he supported the center provided there was funding to buildit.

Funding was a major factor in the Greenville center’s decisionto close. Also, a governor-appointed commission found it was noteconomically feasible to operate the center.

Fire injuries are ones that many people don’t think about untilsomething happens to them or a loved one. Some may considerfire-related injuries rare occurrences, but proper care andtreatment are no less vital when they do happen.

There are some issues where the need outweighs the economics ofa situation, and a burn center is one of those. In the case of aburn center, lighting a fire to find funding to build the facilitywould be a good thing.