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Trauma Care Close to Home

Accident victims with severe injuries now can receive critical trauma care in Panama City instead of having to be transported to Tallahassee or Pensacola.The Florida Department of Health, Office of Trauma, has named Bay Medical Sacred Heart as a Designated Level II Trauma Center, making us the first and only designated trauma center in Bay, Gulf, Washington and Holmes counties.

Trauma centers are distinctly different from emergency departments and can have much better outcomes because of their ability to provide trauma surgeons, neurosurgeons, and other multiple surgical and non-surgical specialists within 30 minutes or less, 24 hours a day. Additionally,the necessary equipment and facilities for immediate and follow-up treatment for severely injured patients are readily available. 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 to ensure they receive the highest and fastest level of care in the most cost effective setting. This results in up to a 20-percent reduction in preventable trauma-related deaths when compared with trauma care in a typical emergency room, according to the Journal of Emergency Surgery. Trauma center care is associated with an 8-percent decrease in mortality from motor vehicle crashes alone. In other words, the worse you’re injured, 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. A trauma alert can be specific regarding level of injury by providing details such as ejection from a vehicle, multiple fractures, penetrating injuries, spinal cord injury, loss of sensation or paralysis.

Having met the standards of a trauma center designation shows that Bay Medical Sacred Heart focuses on the details and best practices generally. Specifically, it means medical staff has undergone thousands of hours of training that will result in better outcomes for patients.

While trauma care most often begins in the field or in the emergency department, the trauma team is multi-disciplinary, and protocols are in place for trauma patients throughout their treatment and rehabilitation in nearly every department of the hospital, from radiology to the lab, from surgery to rehabilitation and more.