Caring for patients in the N.C. Jaycee Burn Center

Our hearts go out to the patients and families of the horrific incident at the ConAgra plant in Garner.

Several hospitals in our area received patients from this tragedy, including our own Rex Healthcare. But those with the most critical injuries came to UNC, where the N.C. Jaycee Burn Center is the largest in the region. Some of these patients will surely require months spent in our burn center, and possibly years of follow-up care.

The families of our patients, like those from other tragedies and traumas, will have a difficult fight, also. Even in the best of times these injuries would be life-altering; in the financial straits in which the country and our state finds itself, they are sure to be doubly so.

UNC has experienced these tragedies numerous times the Kinston explosion in 2003, the crash at Pope Air Force Base in 1994 and the Hamlet chicken processing plant fire in 1991. It is in crises like this one that people are made aware of the burn center, but it is important to know that, according to national data, the average survivor with burns on 50 percent of his body stays in a burn unit almost 58 days, with a mean cost of around $447,000.

The center has 21 ICU beds, making it one of the largest in the country, and there is never a lack of patients to fill each bed.

Dr. Bruce Cairns, director of the burn center and associate professor in the Department of Surgery, very aptly says there is no such thing as a minor burn. Even relatively small burns require special acute care, and lengthy follow up.

Dr. Cairns, the resident physicians, nurses, social workers, therapists and myriad other staff members of our burn center continually perform with at the highest level of professionalism, and I thank them for it. They take very seriously the NC Jaycee Burn Center's mission to support the entire state, and the region, and they show that time and again not only with the excellent inpatient and clinical care they provide, but also with educational outreach programs throughout the state, and they make all of us at UNC proud to work here.

We wish our patients and their families well, and we pledge, as we do for everyone we care for, our commitment to providing them the best care possible.

You can receive updates by following the UNC Health Care News Twitter feed, and this video is an update of the patients and an explanation of burn care by Dr. Cairns and nurse manager Grace Schmits.

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