Tooele’s Mountain West Medical Center earned Trauma Center Level 4 designation last week as verified by the American College of Surgeons.
About 400 hospital employees, led by a trauma designation team, worked the past 1 ½ years to meet all the local, state and national criteria to become a trauma designation hospital, health officials say.
“As the community has grown, we saw an opportunity for improvement in trauma care,” said Dr. Amy McCloskey, an emergency medicine physician who led the trauma designation team.
“The hospital administration, department of radiology, lab services, surgeons, emergency physicians and nurses have come together to improve the process,” she said.
As the community and hospital grows, the center will seek to improve its trauma center status to Level 3, McCloskey said.
There are only three top Level 1 trauma centers in Utah: University of Utah Hospital, Primary Children’s Hospital and Intermountain Medical Center.
McCloskey said she was impressed by Mountain West’s employees as they worked on achieving trauma center designation.
“This community is very blessed to have such a caring, hard-working, bright group of people working for them,” she said. “We are very excited to have received this designation, which has resulted in quality and timely care of injured members of our community.”
The trauma designation team includes Dr. McCloskey, Emergency Room Director Scott Rounds; Trauma Program Manager Pamela Giles; and Trauma Registrar Ronette Sharp.
“In the ER we see three types of patients. We have medical, trauma and behavioral patients,” Rounds said. “This designation is specific to trauma which is physical injury sustained from anything. It could be an injury from a fall, a car crash, gunshot wound, stabbing, anything.”
Giles said the bottom line is the trauma designation means better care for patients.
“It means that patients get the right care at the right time and we get them to the right place,” she said.
The trauma designation team pointed out that ambulance crews do not need to pass by the hospital when treating a trauma patient.
“The whole hospital has to be trained in order to be a trauma designated hospital,” Giles said.
“We can take care of them here,” McCloskey said. “We can admit them to the medical surgical unit rather than sending them to Salt Lake Valley where the patient’s family would also have to travel. This is more convenient for the entire community. If they do require a service we don’t have here, we can get them quickly to the destination.”
She said policies and protocol had to be changed for the hospital to achieve trauma designation.
“We changed the way we do things to make it better,” McCloskey said. “We now have a trauma code that we call overhead so when a trauma comes in we get the services that we need instantly at bedside within a minute or two.”
Giles said it’s a big step forward for the hospital.
“The patient gets blood work, X-rays, and a diagnosis so if they do need a higher level of care we can make the diagnosis and get them where they need to go,” she said. “It is important that the patient come here and is stabilized rather than take the time to get them somewhere else.”
Rounds said medical expertise is readily available in the emergency room with 17 physicians and 20 nurses on staff.
Many of the physicians and nurses have trained and/or worked at trauma designation Level 1 hospitals, he said.
McCloskey trained at the world-renowned R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore.
Sharp’s duties as registrar included documenting all data in an organized and systematic format to present to American College of Surgeons and state medical officials in order for Mountain West to achieve trauma designation status.