The University Record, January 10, 1994

Hospital achieves level-one trauma center rating for adults, children

Every day, 16 hours per day for two years, hundreds of University Hospital staff members tirelessly toiled toward a common goal: the designation of Uni-versity Hospital as a level-one trauma center. Following a grueling evaluation process by the American College of Surgeons (ACS), the hospital in July became one of four in Michigan to attain level-one status for treating adult trauma, and one of only six nationwide to hold the ranking for pediatric trauma.

Jorge L. Rodriguez, director of the Trauma Burn Center, spearheaded the effort to attain the ranking.

“The Trauma Burn Center is all-encompassing—it’s a system,” Rodriguez says. “This shows that we as an institution are committed to a certain level of care.”

“Before, trauma was not handled in any predictable fashion,” says Jennifer Gegenheimer-Holmes, manager of clinical nursing services in the Emergency Department. “We took good care of patients, but the process was not great.”

In the “old” days, for example, the emergency room was staffed by rotating surgeons—those who specialized in cancer or gastroenterology, for example. They had an interest in surgery, but not necessarily trauma. Now there are designated emergency medicine specialists on hand around the clock to respond to the most serious trauma injuries.

One of the key features of the new center is the radio system through which the staff—from the attending physicians and the operating room staff to the blood bank and the respiratory therapists—are put on alert that a trauma victim is on the way. Janna L. Conley, coordinator of the Trauma Burn Unit, says that previously staff were notified only after a trauma patient arrived.

“Often what followed was a lot of scrambling around paging and trying to contact the appropriate physicians and decide what tests were necessary.”

Now, the average time a trauma patient spends in the Emergency Department has been reduced from seven hours to less than two hours.