A state public health team is set to visit Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville next week, as the hospital moves closer to a trauma care designation.
“If the team determines we’ve met all the designation requirements during this visit, then they will issue Level II designation after their visit,” said Dr. John H. Adamski II, trauma medical director for the hospital.
Official word could come by year’s end, he added.
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.
Northeast Georgia is seeking to become a Level II center, which “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,” says the state.
“Some patients with very complex injuries may require transfer to a Level I center.”
A Level II designation for the hospital 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.
“I think (the designation) will save lives,” said Dr. Priscilla Strom, assistant trauma director at Northeast Georgia, in a February interview.
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.
The Georgia Department of Public Health’s Emergency Medical Services & Trauma office is set to visit the Gainesville hospital on Dec. 5, spending about half the day there, Adamski said.
“The team will be 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.”
The hospital isn’t sure exactly who will be visiting, only that it may be just be a “partial team.”
“Generally, a full team includes an emergency medicine physician, a trauma surgeon, a trauma program manager and an (EMS and Trauma) office representative,” Adamski said. “Those who attend this site visit will be the same people who visited us in May.”
After getting the designation, the team would “come back at least every three years ... to review our trauma program and ensure it continues to meet designation requirements,” he 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.”