Trinity Hospital of Augusta was recently designated a Level III trauma center, which officials said should allow it to help shoulder more of the trauma load in Augusta.
Trinity’s designation means it is able to provide a range of clinical services and has specialists available within 30 minutes through Georgia RegentsMedical Center, said Fran Swindell, the emergency department director for Trinity. The emergency department could handle orthopedic cases, such as a child who falls more than 10 feet, and transfer more complex procedures, said Trisha Newsome, the trauma program coordinator at Trinity.
“People normally think of trauma patients as the gunshot wounds and stabbings,” Swindell said. “It can be things as simple as you fell and broke your arm and had to be admitted to the hospital for surgery.”
Only about 20 hospitals in the state of Georgia have pushed to receive the trauma center designation, which runs from the highest at Level 1, which is GRMC’s designation and means not only specialists round-the-clock but research as well, to Level IV, which is stabilize and transfer. Getting the designation was a “long drawn-out process” that included a year of documenting trauma care at Trinity as well as having performance improvement plans for trauma care, Swindell said.
“That’s one of the biggest issues with a trauma center is to be sure that you’re doing the job and doing it well,” she said.
The benefit to Georgia Regents is a chance to reach out to the community, said Dr. Colville Ferdinand, the chief of trauma and surgical critical care.
“From our perspective, this is an opportunity for us to collaborate with other surgeons in the community as we help to take care of the injured patients,” he said.
Trinity can help lighten the burden of less severely injured that typically go to Georgia Regents, Ferdinand said.
“They could, as a Level III center, take care of a lower complexity-type of patient and allow us to focus on some of the more severely injured, higher complexity-type of injuries,” he said.
“Our purpose is to help take that load off of them,” Swindell said.
The key now is to help educate Emergency Medical Services providers on which patients should go to which trauma center, she said.
“Hopefully, once we educate and get the word out to EMS and to the public, they will be requesting Trinity and EMS will be comfortable bringing them here,” Swindell said.
Picking the appropriate destination will be critical, Ferdinand said.
“We need to ensure that the EMS providers take the appropriate patient to the appropriate center because time is not your friend as you care for the injured,” he said. “And any delay in time could mean a worse outcome.”