Doctor's goal: A trauma center for NW Indiana

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Dr. Michael McGee has worked in three of the nation’s busiest emergency rooms and Level 1 trauma centers, caring for patients with all types of injuries and diseases at a moment’s notice and without the aid of a book.

The Crown Point resident is passionate about his chosen work, where he said he can “make a difference in a life and help the community.”

Now the chief of emergency medicine at Methodist Hospitals has his sites set at making the hospital the only designated trauma center in Northwest Indiana, starting with Level 2, which requires surgeons to live within 15 to 30 minutes of the hospital, and eventually becoming a Level 1, where residents live in the hospital, which is also a teaching and research hospital.

“It takes a while to become a designated trauma center. The biggest dilemma is not having enough money,” said McGee, a member of Gov. Mitch Daniels’ Commission on Trauma and the Indiana Trauma Task Force. “It will take funding, the support of the community and businesses to get it going here and save lives.”

He said Indiana is ranked 47 of the 50 states in the number of trauma centers it has versus its population.

“There are three trauma centers in Indiana, two in Evanston, one in Fort Wayne and one in South Bend. Northwest Indiana has the second highest population in the state outside Indianapolis and we have none,” McGee said.

The father of 2-year-old twins said he fell in love with the medical specialty working at John H. Stroger Hospital in Chicago while attending Rush Medical College. “In one night I could go from tending to a gunshot wound to delivering a baby to helping someone in cardiac arrest,” he said.

He did his residency while at New York University in Bellevue Hospital from 2000 to 2004, where “people would come off the boats from other countries straight to Bellevue with different exotic diseases.”

It was also where he had his most ominous moment as a doctor. It was Sept. 11, 2001, and all doctors affiliated with the Manhattan hospital received pages to come in immediately. “There were hundreds of doctors standing around waiting for patients and none came. It was one hour, two hours. We knew it was not a good thing,” he said of the aftermath of the attack on the World Trade Centers.

From there he went to Grady Health Systems in Atlanta, the only Level 1 trauma center in a 100-mile radius.

McGee credits his mother, Azri Kinsey, a single mom who graduated from Indiana University Northwest and was a nurse at Methodist for 30 years, for giving him the push to become a doctor. She died of uterine cancer at age 54.

McGee’s passion isn’t limited to the emergency room. He does a power point presentation to students in Gary’s PREP program for its brightest students on issues like teen violence, sexually transmitted diseases and asthma. At the conclusion, he asks questions and gives prizes like iPods and DVD players paid for with his own money, to those with the correct answers. He’s also involved with an anti-violence program with the Boys and Girls Clubs.

”His excitement and passion for his profession is infectious and spreads to all those around him. He is continuously looking for new and creative ways to motivate and engage his staff,” said Dr. Michael Davenport, who nominated McGee for the Blue Jay Consulting/Emergency Medicine Foundation Award for Emergency Department Director of the Year in 2010.