Carbondale (AP) – Southern Illinois Healthcare is taking steps to expand access to trauma care in the southern part of the state where the lack of trauma centers can add stress, cost and risk for those needing immediate attention. SIH Memorial Hospital has applied to the Illinois Department of Public Health for Level II Trauma Center designation, The Southern Illinoisan reported. The designation is important because the hospital doesn’t have a trauma center and the closest are in St. Louis and Evansville, Indiana, said Dr. Eduardo Smith Singares, who joined Memorial Hospital as its trauma medical director in May last year. St. Louis and Evansville are each about 100 miles (160 kilometers) from Carbondale by road. “If you get injured here, and what we call your ‘golden hour’ starts ticking, your best bet is to get transported by helicopter to one of these places. Each one of them is over an hour away,” Smith Singares said. Longer transport times directly decrease the rate of survival, since travel time can eat into the “golden hour,” which is the period following an injury during which medical treatment and surgery has the best chance of preventing death, he said.