Emergency center receives Level IV trauma designation
The Steamboat Emergency Center recently received their official Level IV trauma designation, a move co-owner Dr. Matthew Freeman calls “taking our abilities to the next level.”
The freestanding emergency room opened on Nov. 28, 2017, at 1600 Mid Valley Drive (in the old Staples building).
By achieving the certification, Freeman said they are now held to higher standards, required to meet more criteria and are “more capable and more skilled.”
Emergency rooms in the state of Colorado have designations between Level V (the lowest) to Level I. On one end, Level V trauma centers offer basic emergency room facilities. On the other end of the spectrum, a Level I trauma center offers 24-hour, in-house coverage by general surgeons and prompt availability of care in numerous specialties, along with a research element.
“It’s quite a process,” Freeman said of the elective application, something they wanted to do to ensure “we are at the highest level we can attain right now as a facility.”
As a new organization, Freeman said they are “always focusing on improving performance.” The center is billed as a “no wait emergency room,” offering services 24 hours per day, seven days per week.
One of the criteria for Level IV includes prevention efforts and community outreach.
Freeman said they work to educate patients on injury prevention and “keeping them from suffering trauma in the first place.”
It also provides an opportunity to ensure they have the capabilities, protocol and channels for transferring patients to higher level trauma facilities when appropriate, he said, as well as have all “proper policies in place to provide the care people deserve.” And, every provider on staff has advanced life support training.
Last February, the emergency department at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center in Steamboat Springs moved from a Level IV to a Level III trauma center.
Since then, they have kept 18 patients at YVMC who previously would have had to transfer out for a higher level of care (typically Denver or Grand Junction), according to Communications Specialist Lindsey Reznicek.
Nine of those had “multi-system traumas,” and nine had non-surgical brain bleeds.
While they did not initially, YVMC now has a transfer agreement in place with the Steamboat Emergency Center and is able to accept all patients that require care appropriate under a center with a Level III certification, “which helps to expedite care for the patient as well as keep costs for the patient lower,” said Reznicek.
Looking forward, Freeman said the new designation keeps the emergency center constantly focused on improving and makes care more efficient. “We always try to facilitate people staying in Steamboat whenever possible,” he said.
Overall, after nearly one year in operation, Freeman said he is “ecstatic with how things are going.”
He said visitor numbers have exceeded expectations, and while there have been challenges as any new business faces, they’ve “learned a lot about what the community needs.”
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