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Hospital celebrates trauma designation
Northeast Georgia Medical Center celebrated on Monday its designation as a trauma center. The Level II designation was awarded in December.

Trauma designations

Northeast Georgia Medical Center has a Level II trauma designation. Here’s how that compares to the Level I:

Level I

  • Can manage any type of trauma patient and multiple patients at one time
  • Does trauma research
  • Conducts trauma medical education, including residency programs
  • Acts as a resource center for the region

Level II

  • Can manage the same type of patients as a Level I center
  • Not required to do trauma research
  • Not required to have residency programs

Northeast Georgia Medical Center celebrated its new trauma care designation Monday with ceremonial speeches, including one by Gov. Nathan Deal, and the unveiling of a new sign at the emergency entrance.

“To all of you who are part of the team that made this possible, I want to say thank you,” Deal told a couple hundred people gathered for the ceremony at the hospital at 743 Spring St.

He said his executive order last month allowing rural hospitals to scale back operations to stay afloat financially “will put even more obligations on larger facilities” such as NGMC.

“I hope we are all very conscious of how important a tremendously qualified medical facility is to not only this local community, but to this entire region of Georgia and, in many respects, to our state as a whole,” Deal said.

The hospital received Level II designation in December from the Georgia Department of Public Health’s Emergency Medical Services & Trauma Office. The designation increases the number of seriously injured patients who can be treated at the hospital, potentially saving even more lives.

Georgia has four trauma designations, with the highest being Level I. The biggest difference between Level I and Level II is that Level I centers — such as Atlanta Medical Center and Grady Memorial Hospital — must be teaching hospitals.

As part of rolling out the new program, NGMC also plans to add trauma center to blue hospital signs along major routes, including Interstate 985, leading to the hospital.

Achieving the designation “is more than a decade in the making and has involved a team of people, from first responders and (emergency medical services) to physicians and clinical staff,” said Carol Burrell, Northeast Georgia Health System president and CEO.

“As a trauma surgeon, I’ve worked at and put together numerous trauma programs and I can tell you that the trauma program at NGMC is second to none,” said Dr. John H. Adamski II, medical director of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery at NGMC.

“Although we gather to celebrate designation,” he told the crowd, “I really want to remind you that designation is only part of the story. The important part of this is we have the commitment of an amazing team of administrators, physicians, nurses and staff that make this a reality for patients every day.”

The emergency room is “one of the smaller pieces” of a trauma program, Burrell said.

The effort involves many components, from emergency responders to home care services.

“It takes a full team of specialized professionals to successfully care for trauma patients ... and helping them get back to being productive members of society,” Burrell said.

She pointed out one person in the crowd, Greg Peters, who benefited from trauma care at the hospital and had shared his story in a video for the event.

“Greg and those like him are the real reason we’re here to celebrate,” Burrell said.

After the ceremony, Peters talked about his nightmarish ordeal.

The Jackson County resident was driving home when his antilock brakes failed as a deer crossed in front of his vehicle and he slammed on the brakes. His car ended up veering off the road and into the woods, flipping.

Peters suffered broken bones and internal injuries and underwent several surgeries, “but I’m blessed and lucky to be alive.”

“If it wasn’t for (the trauma program), I’d be dead,” he added.