The Time is Now

The undeniable need for advanced trauma emergency services in Solano County hit home here at NorthBay recently when a typical staff meeting turned unusual.

To build Solano County’s first trauma center the program’s architects must keep track of hundreds of many moving parts—policies, procedures, protocols, staff training, physicians, nurses, new staff recruitment, equipment needs, regulatory hurdles and the massive data collection that is required of a hospital that takes on this responsibility.

There’s a lot of communication and synchronization. That’s why staff members involved in developing our trauma center meet twice a month at NorthBay Medical Center. Of course, this group is just the tip of an iceberg comprising well over 100 folks who have made this project come to fruition.

During one of these meetings, the hospital’s public address system broadcast a “code trauma.” A patient had arrived unexpectedly in the Emergency Department. When that code is called, the trauma team springs into action.

At first, I figured it was another drill in preparation of achieving a Level III trauma center designation. But NorthBay’s chief nursing officer, who was in the meeting, assured me that it was the real thing. Our trauma medical director, a surgeon, swiftly departed and rushed to the ER.

Heading back to my office, walking along a long corridor that approaches the emergency services area, there was a great flurry of activity. NorthBay’s trauma team came flying out of the ER on its way to surgery with the patient on a gurney.

Our trauma program director, a registered nurse, was helping with the patient. Another NorthBay staff person was atop the gurney compressing the patient’s chest. Other staff scurried along side and ahead of the tempest. NorthBay security personnel cleared the path. NorthBay was doing its best for this patient.

It was dramatic, particularly for people in an adjacent waiting area. What they saw looked somewhat like what you see in a television show, except this was reality, not TV. I could tell by the looks on their faces that they were concerned by what they had just seen. It was a matter of life or death – right there, in person, in real time.

While local hospitals treat trauma patients all the time, NorthBay Medical Center is now the first Level III trauma center in Solano County. And we hope to eventually move up to a Level II designation. Until then, many patients must be put on helicopters and flown out of this county for care.

Trauma services have been missing for too long in our community. In this issue of Wellspring, we will tell you how we intend to fulfill our mission of providing advanced medicine, close to home. And it will include more advanced trauma services.

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