CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Medical University of South Carolina in downtown Charleston is set to open the state’s only adult burn center by this summer.
The multi-million dollar project is adding at least 10 beds for adults in the main hospital and three beds for children in the soon-to-be-opened Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital.
The burn unit team is being led by MUSC’s chief of burn surgery Dr. Steven Kahn.
“Right now for patients who suffer a burn injury in South Carolina, they have to go a very long way away from home to receive high quality burn care," Kahn said. "They either have to go to North Carolina, which could be a three to four or even six hour drive away, or they have to go to Augusta, which could be anywhere from 30 minutes to four or five hours if they’re on opposite ends of the state.”
The top expenses for this center go beyond the team of nurses and doctors that have been hired. Rooms have to be equipped to be able to go up to 90 to 100-degrees, because burn patients can’t always regulate their own body temperature, Kahn said. New equipment is also being brought in.
“The first few hours after injury are critical as the patient has to have an appropriate diagnosis of their burn size and has to be resuscitated with IV fluids to prevent burn shock and their organs from shutting down, so getting to a burn center quickly is very important for a really bad injury,” Kahn said.
The hospital’s pediatric burn program manager Ryan Howard said she’s seen it all firsthand.
“We’ve seen everything from an acute, small injury similar to a sunburn to a very complex house fire burn that covers 80-percent of a patient’s body," Howard said. “It causes a lifelong injury that they weren’t expecting, so having those resources close to home is very important.”
The new center is set to open in the late spring or early summer at MUSC’s downtown Charleston campus.