Accident victims with severe injuries now can receive critical trauma care close to home instead of having to be transported to Tallahassee or Pensacola. Bay Medical recently received approval to serve as a Designated Level II Trauma Center from the Florida Department of Health, Office of Trauma. Bay Medical is the first and only designated trauma center in Trauma Service Area Two, consisting of Bay, Gulf, Washington and Holmes counties. “There is a very distinct difference between emergency departments and trauma centers and the outcomes they have,” said Rick Smith, Bay Medical’s Vice President of Professional and Ancillary Services. “We’re very proud to be the provider of trauma services for this region.”
Hospitals that qualify as a designated trauma center provide trauma surgeons, neurosurgeons, and multiple surgical and non-surgical specialists available within 30 minutes or less, 24 hours a day, as well as the necessary equipment and facilities for immediate and follow-up treatment for severely injured patients. Having fast access to a hospital that has been verified by the Department of Health as a trauma center is critical to survival in the event of severe injury.
By law, trauma patients must be transported to the nearest trauma center within 50 miles. “The fifty-mile radius actually encompasses the I-10 corridor, which is a thoroughfare for motor vehicle accidents,” Smith said. “With the official state designation, patients will be arriving here much more frequently.”
When the most critically injured patients are treated at trauma centers, they receive the highest level of care in the most cost effective setting and preventable trauma-related deaths are reduced as much as 20 percent, according to the Journal of Emergency Surgery, versus trauma care in a typical emergency room. Trauma center care is associated with an 8 percent decrease in mortality from motor vehicle crashes alone. “The more severe your injuries are, that mortality decrease is even more significant,” said Trauma Medical Director Dr. Glenn Summers. “So the worse you’re hurt, the better off you are at a trauma center.”
EMS personnel or hospital emergency physicians determine if a patient is a trauma alert based on criteria set by the Office of Trauma. All trauma alerts that are within the trauma service area or within 50 miles of the designated hospital are immediately transported to the trauma center, and the trauma team is mobilized while the patient is en route. Motor vehicle accidents and falls are common causes of trauma, however a trauma alert indicates severe injury, such as ejection from a vehicle, multiple fractures, penetrating injuries, spinal cord injury, loss of sensation or paralysis.
“It’s a big step for us. It shows that we have met the standards that the state has set to be a trauma center,” Dr. Summers said. “It’s a very, very, long process; a very exacting process. To receive this designation is no small task. This higher focus on the details, knowledge of the best practices and the level of expertise is now always available at Bay Medical.”
Dr. Summers says the qualifications included thousands of hours of training for the staff and medical staff that that will provide better outcomes for patients. “We have the facilities in place the personnel in place, the training in place to take care of you if you get hurt. We are the go-to place in terms of taking care of trauma patients.”
While trauma care most often begins in the field or the emergency department, the trauma team is multi-disciplinary and protocols are in place for trauma patients throughout their treatment and rehabilitation. “This trauma designation only happened with the efforts of nearly every department in the hospital working together,” says Steve Johnson, Bay Medical President & CEO. “Our EMS staff plays a vital role in assessing the patient’s condition at the scene and stabilizing the patients for fast, but safe transport to the emergency department. However once they arrive at Bay Medical, the care of these patients also includes radiology, lab, surgery, respiratory, rehabilitation, wound care, and of course the critical care nursing team that is by the patient’s side throughout their stay. I am extremely proud and honored to work with such a dedicated group of employees and physicians.”
Bay Medical is the only trauma center between Pensacola and Tallahassee in Northwest Florida and is one of only 28 in the entire state.