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NGMC Gainesville may soon become a Level 1 trauma center. Here’s what that means
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An ambulance arrives Thursday Dec. 15, 2022, at the Northeast Georgia Medical Center emergency entrance. - photo by Scott Rogers

The Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville has applied to become a Level 1 trauma center, which would allow the hospital to participate in new research and help recruit physicians. 

If the American College of Surgeons approves the application, that would make NGMC Gainesville just the fifth Level 1 adult trauma center in Georgia, along with Augusta University Medical Center, Atrium Health Navicent in Macon, Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta and Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah, according to the Department of Public Health. 

Hospital officials said they expect an answer in the spring of next year and are hopeful that ACS will approve their application.

The hospital has been certified as a Level II trauma center since 2018, and the step up to Level 1 wouldn’t have many clinical implications. 

“We were already doing a lot of the things that we needed to be doing to be a Level 1 trauma center,” said Jesse Gibson, trauma program director at NGMC Gainesville. 

But it would allow the hospital to position itself on the "bleeding edge" of trauma care research, which could influence trauma care not just locally but across the state and nation. 

“I look at it kind of as sort of setting yourself aside as a leader in trauma care and really being able to influence future trauma care not only here in our community, but in the state and and nationally,” Gibson said. “For instance, looking at devices that could improve survivability of a hemorrhaging trauma patient — and for us to be able to be part of studies like that … it's really bleeding edge.”

Being a Level 1 trauma center also serves as an excellent recruiting tool, Gibson said. 

“One of the things that was most attractive to a lot of us is that level one trauma centers really do serve as a great recruiting tool,” she said. “It helps you to get some of the best and brightest nurses, physicians. And now with our new graduate medical education program, obviously it helps us to attract great physician residents and especially in areas of general surgery and emergency medicine.” 

Gibson said NGMC Gainesville is already recognized locally and statewide for its trauma care. They are just trying to raise the bar even higher. 

“We already have a high bar here for trauma care,” she said. “I think this is just, once again, trying to raise that bar even higher and to ensure that the community can trust that we're providing the highest level of care.” 

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A man walks into the Northeast Georgia Medical Center emergency entrance Thursday, Dec. 15, 2022. - photo by Scott Rogers