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Hospital’s trauma status could save lives

State agency team evaluates medical center’s bid for Level II care designation

POSTED: December 6, 2013 12:10 a.m.

Northeast Georgia could learn around the new year — if not sooner — whether it will get a trauma care designation, which one health official says could save lives by providing faster care for those badly hurt.

A team from the Georgia Department of Public Health’s Emergency Medical Services & Trauma office spent most of Thursday visiting Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville to determine whether the hospital should get a trauma care designation.

“The site survey is complete,” hospital spokeswoman Melissa Tymchuk said.

Officials don’t know when the hospital will receive an official decision letter.

After the team’s visit in May, “we received (a notice) about six weeks later, so we expect it will be in that same time frame or less,” Tymchuk said.

Dr. John H. Adamski II, trauma medical director for the hospital, has said the team will issue the Level II trauma care designation if it “determines we’ve met all the designation requirements during the visit.”

On Thursday, the team was “following up on opportunities they identified during their visit in May,” he said. “These specifically include some structures and processes we needed to strengthen based on the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma Guidelines.”

Dr. Priscilla Strom, assistant trauma director at Northeast Georgia, has said she believes the designation “will save lives.”

The mortality rate from trauma in Georgia is 20 percent higher than other states, and “that’s due to the fact that right now there are ... regions without designated trauma centers,” Adamski has said.

And with Northeast Georgia’s hills and valleys, making it difficult to reach some injured patients, “you’re already behind the eight-ball in terms of transporting someone down to another facility,” he said.

Georgia has four trauma designations, with the highest being Level I.

Those hospitals, which include Atlanta Medical Center and Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, “offer the greatest level of comprehensive trauma care, from prevention through rehabilitation,” according to the Georgia Department of Community Health.

A Level II center “generally can provide the same level of clinical care as a Level I, but usually does not have the focus on research, education and systems planning,” the state says.

“Some patients with very complex injuries may require transfer to a Level I center.”

A Level II designation for Northeast Georgia Medical Center would be a first for the Georgia Trauma Care Network Commission’s Region 2, which covers Northeast Georgia.

The nearest Level II centers to Hall are in North Fulton, Lawrenceville and Athens.

If the hospital gets the designation, a team would “come back at least every three years ... to review our trauma program and ensure it continues to meet designation requirements,” Adamski said.

However, the group “can come for a site visit at any time, and we will be required to submit reports to the state every quarter.”


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