Decision Time for Trauma

The advent of the Center for Neuroscience completes the creation of all advanced medical services necessary to elevate NorthBay Medical Center to a Level II trauma center in October.

The process of designating Solano County’s only advanced trauma center culminates on Oct. 10. That is when an independent panel delivers its recommendation to the governing board of the Solano Emergency Medical Services Cooperative, the agency that will decide which hospital is best suited to treat the most serious traumatic injuries.

NorthBay Medical Center and Kaiser Permanente’s Vacaville facility were the only two applicants for the Level II status. The designated hospital will treat trauma patients who must now be flown out of the county for treatment of head and spine injuries.

“Dr. Jeffrey Dembner has worked with us to assemble a team of neurosurgeons available not only around the clock, but also available for follow-up care,” explained Deborah Sugiyama, President of NorthBay Healthcare Group. “What makes us unique from the others is that Dr. Dembner lives and works in this community. He takes ownership of our program and helped build it. He spends all of his time in our Fairfield hospital and has a long-term commitment to this community.”

Not only will trauma patients with head and spine injuries get treatment sooner with a Level II center in Fairfield, they will receive comprehensive follow-up services close to home. That eliminates a hardship on families who otherwise would have to travel long distances to be with their loved ones.

On Monday, July 15, NorthBay submitted a compelling case to receive the designation, documenting all of the reasons why it is the better choice for advanced trauma care. The independent panel visited the Fairfield hospital on Aug. 19.

Distinguishing it from the other applicant, NorthBay clinical leaders noted: NorthBay’s Fairfield hospital is by far the more complete medical center with a long-established labor and delivery department, a neonatal intensive care unit, a comprehensive cardiac and vascular surgery program, and around-the-clock physician coverage of all major specialties, from pediatrics to orthopedics.

The Fairfield hospital is located in the heart of the county, much closer to the population centers. Additionally, travel times to it are much shorter for most of the county compared to the Vacaville campus of the other hospital vying for the designation.

“We are confident the surveyors saw the obvious differences between the two applicants for Level II,” said Kathy Richerson, Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer. “Our trauma leadership has been in place from the first day we began designing and building our trauma program. Our team has been consistent. It has not changed leaders midstream. And our physicians, nurses and staff have been enthusiastic in their support of this initiative. We are all on the same page.”

For more information about NorthBay Trauma Center and stories about the lives it already has saved, visit

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