Hospital seeks trauma center status
Tahoe Forest Hospital is hoping to be designated a Level 3 Trauma Center by the Sierra-Sacramento Valley Emergency Medical Services Agency.
The agency’s board of directors will vote Friday on awarding TFH that status.
“We will be recommending to the board that they be given the status,” said Leonard Inch, regional executive director of the agency.
If the board votes to give Tahoe Forest Hospital the status, it will be for a provisional 9-month designation, with permanent status being awarded at a later date.
What the new status will mean for the hospital is that it gets increased access to other trauma centers, and can compare notes with them to improve procedures.
“What it does to us it is puts us into the national trauma data registry system so we can compare our information and network,” said Kim Thomas, Tahoe Forest Hospital clinical nurse specialist and trauma coordinator, on Tuesday. “It definitely helps with our education and follow-up work.”
“The goal E is to improve trauma care that is delivered,” Inch said.
The new status won’t produce a major change in hospital services at first, but provides more of a platform for future improvements.
“We’re looking forward to it,” said Larry Long, TFH administrator. “We’ve got some really great talent just joining our medical staff.”
“The Emergency Medical Services Agency has made it a priority to systematically go through their region and designate hospitals as trauma centers,” said Long.
A team of physicians and experts from out of state were brought to Tahoe Forest Hospital last week to inspect the facilities.
The Rideout Memorial Marysville Hospital is also seeking Level 3 Trauma Center Status.
“There are three Level 3 centers in the state, and if this succeeds there will be two more,” Inch said.
Instrumental in the new status will be Dr. David Kitts, joining as a surgeon and medical director, and Thomas, a veteran of the hospital who has been given the new position of clinical nurse specialist at TFH (see additional story page A9).
“From my perspective it clearly puts more of a focus on the quality of care that is being provided in the ER,” Long said.
Washoe Medical Center in Reno is a Level 2 Trauma Center, which can provide added services such as neurosurgery.
Washoe and the Sutter Roseville Medical Center will continue to receive some extremely serious patient transfers from TFH.
“At Level 3, our services are more limited,” said Thomas. “We do a lot, but there’s a big difference between Level 2 and Level 3.”
A Level 1 Trauma Center would be able to handle pretty much any patient emergency, including burn victims.
“We see a lot of trauma in the Sierra,” noted Thomas. “We see far more patients in the Sierra than probably any other hospital this size.”
Tahoe Forest Hospital will now have three full-time surgeons, one part-time and two “on call” surgeons.
“For a long time we were in a position where some of our surgeons were really overworked,” Thomas said.
“We want to give the best care possible,” she added.
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