Kudos on trauma center

In the important but restrictive category of “good news when you have traumatic news,” Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett has earned an adult Level II Trauma Center certification by the Washington State Department of Health.

Awarded after a rigorous application and evaluation process, Level II, means that Providence is equipped to handle very complex trauma patients because of the resources immediately available in the medical center. Around-the-clock general surgeons, adult and pediatric medical hospitalists, and intensivists are on site, with additional standby access to all key specialties, including anesthesia, neurosurgery and orthopedics, the hospital said in announcing the news.

Such certifications are designated by five levels; Providence Regional is the only medical center in Snohomish County with an adult Level II Trauma Center designation. Harborview in Seattle is the only Level I trauma center in the state.

The upgrade comes in part from Providence’s emergency department, which opened in the new hospital in 2011. It was built with four adjoining trauma rooms and a direct-access extra-large elevator system to accommodate an entire trauma team during transport from the rooftop helipad. A CT scanner and two X-ray machines allow for quick imaging access.

With 79 beds, it’s the largest emergency department in state and one of the busiest in the country, according to Becker’s Hospital review, treating more patients than any other hospital in the state with nearly 100,000 visits last year.

Providence’s reputation preceded its designation as a Level II trauma center. One particularly dramatic public case illustrates the point: Two girls were stabbed at Snohomish High School in October 2011, one very seriously. Bekah Staudacher was slashed trying to help her friend April Lutz, who was stabbed dozens of times. Students and faculty came to their aid until paramedics arrived. Because April was in danger of bleeding to death, the paramedics called off a helicopter that would have taken her to Harborview. They instead raced to Providence, getting April to the emergency department 24 minutes after they reached her.

One of the stab wounds pierced April’s heart and lung, and the emergency room doctors determined there wasn’t time to prep her for the operating room. (April’s heart stopped three times before the paramedics and then the doctors could stabilize her.) Doctors opened up April’s chest and immediately relieved pressure from the blood that was squeezing around her heart. They worked for six hours, saving April’s life.

The Level II designation officially reflects the level of care that has long been practiced at Providence. Congratulations to Providence Regional Medical Center, its emergency department and trauma team.

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