County’s First Trauma Center in the Works

NorthBay unveiled its plan in September to create Solano County’s first Level III trauma center, a new service that could be operating by early 2012.

“We will provide trauma services to the communities we now serve in northern Solano County,” said Gary Passama, NorthBay Healthcare President/CEO. “We have been Solano’s leader in investing in new technology and facilities, which allows us to provide advanced medical services not offered by other providers.”

The trauma center would be located at NorthBay Medical Center in Fairfield and open in early 2012. But it will move to NorthBay VacaValley Hospital when expansion of that campus is complete in 2014.

Solano County is one of the few counties of its size that does not have a designated trauma center within its boundaries and county health officials expressed their support of the local effort.

“Trauma is an unwelcome event in anyone’s life and we are all vulnerable,” said Michael Stacey, M.D., Solano County’s interim public health officer. “I welcome that a Solano County hospital is seeking trauma designation.”

There are about 1,000 trauma cases a year in Solano County, according to state statistics that show 42 percent are transferred out of the county, typically to trauma centers in Walnut Creek or Sacramento. Most are a result of traffic accidents (50 percent) and falls (39 percent). Less than 7 percent of traumatic injuries are a result of assaults.

While NorthBay’s trauma center will need county and state approval, the hospital plans to go a step beyond to meet the national guidelines set by the American College of Surgeons.

During the last three years, NorthBay Healthcare has built the infrastructure for trauma care and other advanced medical services. North-Bay Medical Center was recently was designated a Chest Pain Center. And, its Heart & Vascular Center has brought new life-saving surgery to the county for the first time.

Both NorthBay Medical Center and NorthBay VacaValley Hospital have around-the-clock in-house physician staffing for general surgery, orthopedic surgery, anesthesia, OB-GYN and critical care medicine, all of which provide a strong foundation for building a high-quality trauma medical team.

NorthBay’s long-range plan is to upgrade the trauma center in Vacaville to a Level II program, which will require the addition of neurological specialists, including a neurosurgeon.

What is a Level III Trauma Center?

Level III Trauma Centers typically care for patients with serious injuries, mostly from accidents. A Level III center has the resources for emergency resuscitation, surgery, and intensive care of most trauma patients. However, a Level III center does not offer advanced care for those with head trauma and neurological complications. Those patients will continue to be sent to trauma centers elsewhere, typically via air ambulances.

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