Barton Hospital designated as one of four Level III trauma centers in state
Barton Memorial Hospital is now one of four facilities in California to be recognized for a certain degree of high-level trauma care. El Dorado County designated the hospital a Level III trauma center earlier this week, making it the first of any level in the Lake Tahoe, Truckee and Carson Valley region and one of the few Level III centers in the state.
Essentially the designation, which followed verification from the American College of Surgeons last fall, means the hospital has taken certain steps toward expediting patient care and improving patient safety, among other things.
“We thought it was important that we achieved accreditation not so much to change the patients we’re taking care of, but to change the way we take care of them,” said Dr. Kimberly Evans, general surgeon and trauma director at Barton. What that means is Barton has hired extra staff, provided additional staff training, developed new protocols in the treatment process and more to meet the requirements for accreditation. Trauma centers must meet a variety of criteria, including having a wide range of immediately available medical experts and access to critical care equipment 24 hours a day. The new designation won’t make much of a difference in terms of what the hospital treats, Evans said, but it does mean Barton is taking a different approach to patient care. “Our main goal is to help patients in what we call the golden hour of trauma — that first hour of traumatic injury where you have the highest chance of saving lives,” she said. As an example of how the new approach works, Evans described a situation in which a patient with traumatic injuries is transported by ambulance to the emergency room. In that scenario, the hospital would be notified of the inbound ambulance, then an entire team of medical professionals would be immediately assembled and await the patient’s arrival. “The patient then doesn’t have to wait to get their blood drawn, they don’t have to wait to get their X-ray, they don’t have to wait to get their vitals — it’s all done immediately on arrival to the emergency department,” she said. “Whereas before they’d get checked in and seen by the emergency physician. We’d have to call people in and that type of thing.”
About one-third of emergency room visits at Barton are the result of a trauma injury. That statistic, combined with the fact that the hospital is in a geographically isolated location, makes the designation of a Level III trauma center in the area that much more significant, Evans added. Barton has been working to achieve Level III status for the past four or five years. Chief Medical Officer Dr. Clint Purvance said the designation reaffirms the hospitals commitment to the community. “We have expanded our care team and our staff have undergone extensive emergency medicine training,” Purvance said in a statement.
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