Peters Burn Center bucks trend

Across the U.S. there has been an increasing trend of burn center closures – but not here in the Valley.

Community Regional Medical Center’s Leon S. Peters Burn Center is the only round-the-clock, fully staffed burn center between Los Angeles and Sacramento.

Before the move of the burn center from University Medical Center to Community Regional in April 2007, the center had six dedicated burn beds and saw more than 2,000 patients in a year.

Since the move, Peters Burn Center has expanded to 10 beds and continues to see patients from all parts of central California. It covers the largest service area in the state – 15,000 square miles, an area almost as big as Rhode Island, Connecticut and New Jersey combined.

Since 2004, the number of burn centers has dropped from 132 to 127, and burn beds from 1,897 to 1,820, in the U.S. according to American Burn Association records compiled from voluntary hospital reporting.

In California, there are 13 facilities with dedicated burn beds. However, Mississippi, North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and New Hampshire have no burn centers at all.

According to Sandra Yovino, registered nurse and manager of the burn center and pediatrics at Community Regional, burn centers are expensive to maintain and often lose money because of the cost of highly specialized surgeons and nurses, extensive patient recovery periods and specialty equipment such as hyperbaric chambers.

The Peters Burn Center provides two hyperbaric chambers to help burn victims with their healing process.

“We care for children and adults and handle all levels of care from critical care to rehabilitation, all under one roof,” Yovino said.

From dietitians and social services to discharge planning, the patient never needs to leave the burn center.

“We can provide all of that. It’s a dynamic combination,” Yovino said.

This story was reported by Millie Tang. She can be reached at