JERSEY SHORE - Every day people use cameras to document moments and upload them to websites to share with families and friends. Utilizing the same technology, people with burns receive faster treatment.
There are two major facilities in the state that take care of burn victims: Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown and one in Pittsburgh, said Karen Zinobile, chief nursing officer of Jersey Shore Hospital.
In the past, whenever someone with a burn went to Jersey Shore Hospital, emergency room physicians called Lehigh Valley Hospital to describe the injury to see if local treatment would be enough or if additional, more specialized care was necessary.
With the growing gas industry in the area, more burn victims have been coming to Jersey Shore. Now with Teleburn technology, they can be treated faster by just taking a picture and uploading it to a website, Zinobile said.
"The wait is 15 minutes," she said. "Not long at all."
When someone comes in with a burn, the hospital first tries to alleviate the pain and determine its severity. First-degree burns are like sunburns and do not need serious attention. Second-degree burns, which go down to the muscle, can be more painful than third-degree burns, which continue to the person's nerves, Zinobile said.
If a person has second- or third-degree burns, a picture is taken of the damage and sent securely to Lehigh Valley Hospital Network. The images can be viewed on the Information Management Resources OnBase solution to burn care specialists who look at them while talking over the phone to the doctor from the referring hospital.
The burn care specialist then can decide if the burn can be treated at Jersey Shore Hospital, and then the outpatient clinic the following day, or if the person needs to be taken to Allentown by ambulance or helicopter.
An ambulance ride can take two-and-a-half hours in good weather, while a helicopter ride only takes 45 minutes, Zinobile said. What determines the transportation is the severity of the burn.
If 5 percent of a baby's body is covered in a burn, it is considered major. If 5 percent of an adult's body is burned, it is not considered major.
"We try to do it the best way for the patients," Zinobile said.
If a person is transported, whether by ambulance or helicopter, they are shipped with dry dressings, said Dr. Aaron Kolb, emergency room medical director. Cold, wet dressings are applied immediately, with cold water; not ice.
The wet dressings can slow ongoing injuries, but another thermal injury can be attained by using ice, which would make the original burn worse. A thermal injury can be a burn from either the heat or the cold.
In the two months since the state Department of Health approved the Teleburn technology at Jersey Shore Hospital, there have been no burn victims, but one went to the hospital two days before it was approved.
Kolb predicts Jersey Shore Hospital probably only will see about one burn victim a month.
"You never know," he said. "It's not something we're going to use often."
Its lack of use is a reason why Jersey Shore Hospital does not need its own burn center.
"A burn center is such a sophisticated art," Kolb said. "It belongs in the hands of true experts in burn care."