January 14, 2020
The State of Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) EMS and Trauma Systems Section has designated St. Peter’s Health as an Area Trauma Hospital. Area Trauma Hospitals are capable of handling most trauma patients in their service area.
The American Trauma Society defines physical trauma as severe blunt, blast or penetrating injury. Severe trauma can be caused by vehicular or recreational accidents, assaults, gunshots, stabbings, falls or severe burns. In 2018, St. Peter’s Health saw nearly 300 trauma patients, and the number of trauma patients has been increasing annually.
According to St. Peter’s Health Director of Emergency Services and emergency physician Dr. Andrew Michel, trauma patients are some of the most critical patients. “It is absolutely imperative that everyone works together and follows established protocols when caring for a trauma victim,” said Dr. Michel. “Quality trauma care is a barometer of an entire hospital’s diverse functions. Earning this designation means every aspect of the care we provide—from emergency medical services, emergency department, intensive care unit, radiology, laboratory, operating room and rehabilitation—is a coordinated system unified to assure the best possible outcomes for our patients.”
Jennifer Lambertson, RN is the trauma coordinator at St. Peter’s Health. In her role, she is responsible for evaluating care provided to each trauma patient and implementing performance improvement strategies to continuously improve care. According to Lambertson, “when we evaluate trauma care we do not just look at the care that a patient receives at our facility. We also look at pre-hospital care, after discharge care or transfer to another facility.”
DPHH’s evaluation process is rigorous and includes over 150 essential and desired criteria. Criteria evaluated to achieve the Area Trauma Hospital designation include the organization’s trauma program structure, availability of equipment and staff qualifications. “For example, to receive this designation St. Peter’s Health implemented a comprehensive trauma education program for staff, including certification courses and internal education,” said Lambertson.
St. Peter’s Health continues to invest in the emergency services it provides in its five-county service area. Over the past 18 months, the organization has expanded its ambulance team, started a $10 million remodel of its operating rooms and launched two new telehealth programs – TeleStroke and TeleICU – in partnership with the University of Utah Health. “We are the community’s hospital, and we are honored to be there to take care of our friends, family and neighbors when they need us the most,” remarked Lambertson. “When we are able to work together to improve the care we provide, we all win.”