If you’ve been wondering about something in your community, Ask The Times is your place to get answers. The following question was submitted by a reader and answered through the efforts of our news staff.
I’ve read that Northeast Georgia Medical Center has received a trauma II designation. My question is twofold: 1) Why are accident victims still transported to other hospitals? 2) If I were involved in an accident and needed a specialist, like a plastic surgeon, on a weekend night, would NGMC have one there to care for me?
Even with a Level II designation, patients needing specialized attention could be sent to other hospitals.
For example, burn victims would go to a designated burn center, and spinal cord injury victims would go somewhere like the Shepherd Clinic in Atlanta.
The hospital’s designation applies to adults, so children who suffer traumatic injuries still typically go to a pediatric hospital like Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
Decisions about where a patient goes also depend on availability of resources. If there are multiple trauma patients during a short time period, some patients may need to go elsewhere to receive the most timely care, hospital spokesman Sean Couch said.
The hospital has access to a medical staff of more than 550 physicians representing more than 55 specialties, including plastic surgery, Couch said. Most of those are available after hours and on weekends for emergencies, but some complex injuries still may be best treated at another hospital.
“It all depends on what resources are available and what’s most safe for the patient,” Couch said.
The designation was awarded in December from the Georgia Department of Public Health’s Emergency Medical Services & Trauma Office. It means that many, but not all, patients who were before flown to Level I trauma centers, such as Atlanta Medical Center and Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, now are being treated in Gainesville.
Georgia has four trauma designations, with the highest being Level I. Level I and Level II treat serious injuries of all types, with the biggest difference being that Level I centers must be teaching hospitals.
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