Trauma Team Thrives at Hectic Pace

Solano County’s most highly developed trauma center, operating today in NorthBay Medical Center, is busier than ever expected, proof that this life-saving advanced medicine was overdue. The Fairfield hospital and its sister, VacaValley Hospital in Vacaville, have long treated patients with traumatic injuries, but NorthBay Medical Center was officially designated the county’s first trauma center on Sept. 30, 2011. While initial studies projected one trauma patient per day, in the center’s first 12 weeks of operation, it was averaging two per day.

“The need has been an important question for some time, but the larger than expected volume of paztients being treated by us answers that question without a doubt,” observed Dr. Pete Zopfi, NorthBay Trauma Center Medical Director. “Months of preparation with skills classes, advanced training and trauma drills translate into excellent care and outcomes for hundreds of local residents and visitors who would have previously required long-distance transport outside of Solano County.”

In its quest to continually improve, and to ensure the best care for its patients, NorthBay will seek verification from the American College of Surgeons and its Committee on Trauma, the gold standard of trauma care. Founded in Chicago in 1913, the college has improved the quality of care by setting the highest standards for surgical education and practice. “You cannot be a world-class trauma program without the endorsement of the College of Surgeons,” Dr. Zopfi observed.

Trends that have emerged in the center’s first months of operation include:

  • The two top causes of trauma in Solano County are traffic collisions or crashes and falls;
  • NorthBay Medical Center, because of its central location in Fairfield, finds it is serving 75 percent of the county’s residents; and
  • While the majority of patients treated live in Fairfield, Suisun and Vallejo, others reside beyond the county border, including Danville, Santa Rosa, Sonoma, Stockton and Stanford Ranch.

In addition to earning approval from the American College of Surgeons, the program leaders continue to pursue accreditation as a Level II trauma center, which would allow it to care for those with head trauma and neurological complications. As a Level III center, NorthBay Medical Center sends those patients—only a small fraction of the total volume—to trauma centers in Walnut Creek and Sacramento.

“Development of world-class trauma care never ceases,” said Kathy Richerson, vice president and chief nursing officer, the architect of the program. “Training and education for physicians, nurses and staff is a constant rigor, an absolute requirement for us. And all the while, we are putting together the pieces for Level II, a higher echelon of care.”

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