CRUSH, CRASH, CRUNCH…
Nobody plans to fall off a ladder, get bitten by a dog or be involved in a car crash. But the unexpected can happen, and when it does, a team of highly qualified, trauma-trained professionals are on standby 24/7 in NorthBay Healthcare’s two Emergency Departments.
NorthBay Medical Center in Fairfield was verified as a Level II trauma center in 2014 and again in 2017 by the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma, elevating it one step away from a teaching hospital. The hospital has since become the busiest trauma center in Solano County, due in part to its central location. The majority of all life-threatening or serious injuries will receive first care here, according to Heather Venezio, R.N., Trauma Program director.
NorthBay Medical Center’s verification as an accredited Chest Pain Center, Certified Stroke Center and an Emergency Department Approved for Pediatrics (EDAP) may also help explain why so many seriously ill or injured patients are transported here, she added.
NorthBay VacaValley Hospital’s Emergency Department is also a Certified Stroke Center and EDAP, and its staff is well versed in all things trauma. Both facilities have helipads to receive and transport critically ill and injured patients.
What sends most people to the ED? A slip, trip or fall, Heather said. More people injure themselves on a ground level fall than anything else, but right behind are falls from animals or playground equipment, from balconies or beds, down stairs, out windows or off ladders.
NorthBay not only treats fall injuries but has a program in place to help prevent them, according to Heather. “We oversee several fall prevention classes in the community—Stepping On, Tai Chi: Moving for Better Balance, and Matter of Balance—and the classes have reduced falls among participants by approximately 60 percent.”
Injuries sustained from motor vehicle accidents and penetrating wounds are the next two most frequent incidents to send a patient to the NorthBay Trauma Center. But since staff never knows what will arrive at their doors next, they must be prepared to treat everything in between—from dog bites to workplace injuries, from burns to drownings.
“Our ED staff has to have a high level of knowledge on everything, not just one specialty,” Heather added. So, 100 percent of the staff are required to maintain Trauma Nurse (TNCC) certification, as well as certification in Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS), Basic Life Support (BLS), wound infiltration, moderate/deep sedation, triage, and pediatric asthma.
Although trauma surgeons, nurses and anesthesiologists are on deck for the first line of care, they are also supported by an extensive list of sub-specialists—physicians whose training gives them expertise in the more complex aspects of a specialty—who are available to provide additional support at a moment’s notice.
“The call list is required by the American College of Surgeons as part of our Level II verification,” explained J. Peter Zopfi, D.O., NorthBay Medical Center Trauma director, “but NorthBay has been able to attract some very talented physicians to that list. We also collaborate with medical personnel at David Grant Medical Center at Travis Air Force Base. The depth of the call list’s expertise means NorthBay Healthcare can treat many kinds of injuries that would have been sent to hospitals outside the county before.”
Meet our Trauma Physician Leaders
Peter Zopfi, D.O.Fairfield
Haroon Mojaddidi, M.D.Fairfield
William Fulton, M.D.Fairfield