by Jason P. Smith
Exempla Good Samaritan Medical Center recently received its Level III trauma designation from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, broadening the scope of care now available at the hospital.
Located in an area with quick access to the I-25 corridor, the trauma designation will now allow critically injured patients, such as those involved in motor vehicle accidents, to be treated at Good Samaritan.
"Prior to the designation, ambulances came here only with patients with medical illnesses, but now they can bring injured patients here," said Mary Shelton, trauma coordinator at Good Samaritan Medical Center.
"A hospital will always get the walking injured – those who come to the hospital’s emergency room door and are trauma patients, but ambulances had to go somewhere different."
Acquiring a Level III trauma designation is not something that happens quickly, according to Shelton.
"It’s fairly extensive, and it’s multi-leveled," she said. "There are administrative changes as well as training and added equipment to ensure proper care for a trauma patent."
There also is a trauma team that’s on call which includes a representative from the respective departments as well as people from the other ancillary departments that may come into play while caring for a trauma patient.
Becoming a Level III trauma center was part of the plan for the hospital from the beginning. While it took a little time to get everything in order, the timing of the designation happened right on schedule, according to Sharon Burnette.
"In order to best serve the community and give them the best service, we knew we had to be a trauma center," Burnette said.
"It’s more than just putting all the pieces in place," Shelton said of getting the designation.
"You don’t just decide to be a trauma center and it happens overnight. There are rules and regulations that you are required to meet, and putting all of those in place in a new hospital was really challenging," Shelton said.
Shelton, who has a number of years in critical care as well as working as a trauma coordinator, is pleased with how everything has come together and excited about helping patients in a new capacity for the hospital.
"When we have critically injured patients brought in by ambulance, it’s really rewarding to watch the team go into action," Shelton said, "and follow those patients all the way through to hospitalization and rehabilitation and know that they are walking out of the hospital."
Shelton also stressed the importance of getting good care in the beginning when critically injured.
Leading the trauma team is Dr. Barry Paltnick, and experienced trauma surgeon credentialed in both surgery and critical care.
Along with Platnick a complete team of specialty surgeons from the community are on staff to care for trauma patients who come to the hospital.
"We have a tremendous nursing knowledge base and trauma nurse experience for the program," said Julie Nunley, CNO.
"Our trauma coordinator brings more than 30 years of experience to our trauma program, including trauma nursing and education.
"It’s rewarding to see how the team responds, and it is a team," Shelton said. "It’s not just the trauma surgeon or the nurse, it is an actual group effort and everyone has a very important role in it. But, to see the result is really amazing."