St. Mark's Hospital - February 06, 2019

Congratulations St. Mark’s team! St. Mark’s Hospital is now the only Level II Trauma Center in the Salt Lake Valley – what an accomplishment!

The American College of Surgeons recently verified the level of our trauma care. Achieving Level II status represents a collaborative, three-year effort to gather resources, ready teams and implement policies and procedures that now enhance our ability to provide care for severely injured patients.

We’ve actually been providing Level II trauma care for more than a year now. The recent verification proves that we’ve been doing it. We will continue to do it and improve as we go. So, major kudos and big thanks to all our staff, physicians and the administration team for the validation!

To help us better understand why and how Level II verification was achieved, here’s a Q&A with Dr. Kris Mitchell, Director of St. Mark’s Trauma Services.

Primary Children’s Center, the University of Utah and Intermountain Medical Center are Level I Trauma Centers, so will you explain the difference between Level I and Level II?

Absolutely. Being verified as a Level II Trauma Center means we can take care of patients with the same severity of injuries as Level I Trauma Centers. The requirements between Level II and Level I are nearly identical, and we now have the required specialists and technology and processes on-hand 24/7 The main difference between Level II and Level I is that Level I facilities are usually teaching hospitals where research is conducted.

Since the requirements for Level II and Level I Trauma Centers are so closely aligned, why is it important to our community to have another one with Level II capabilities?

When severe traumatic injuries strike, it’s vital for patients to receive care as quickly and as close to home as possible. So, for example, when someone in our community experiences a gunshot wound, emergency medical services can quickly transport that person to St. Mark’s and know that we are ready and capable of providing the highest level trauma care. Together, we are decreasing patient transport times and increasing positive outcomes.

What enhancements and advancements in care did St. Mark’s teams implement to qualify for Level II verification?

Becoming verified as a Level II Trauma Center required the entire hospital to come together and up their game for the good of our patients – trauma and non-trauma patients alike. We made major changes and invested significant energy, time and finances into the effort. Here are some examples:

  • We employed more specially trained physicians, including ophthalmologists, facial plastic surgeons and vascular specialists as well as complex orthopedics for pelvis/acetabular needs.
  • Many of our nurses earned advanced certifications in trauma care.
  • Teams emplaced patient protocols regarding massive blood transfusions, brain death and rib plating management.
  • Staff worked diligently to improve patient treatment times and make expert care more immediately available.
  • We invested in advanced technologies, like the Belmont Rapid Infuser for high-volume blood infusions, new ultrasound machines in the Emergency Department and TEG machines. We also established new trauma resuscitation rooms for critical patients.

These tremendous efforts demonstrate our focus on continually enhancing the care we deliver.

By being a Level II Trauma Center, do we offer any new assistance to our fellow HCA facilities?

Indeed, we do. Since we’ve advanced to a Level II Trauma Center, St. Mark’s can serve as a tertiary referral center within the HCA MountainStar network. For example, we can now accept more severe patients from other HCA hospitals like Lakeview, Lone Peak and others in the region.

How do you see this trauma verification impacting St. Mark’s Hospital in the long term?

It took a lot of faith from a lot of people to make this verification a reality, and it’s all linked to our leaders with long-term vision. Special thanks for our administration team! Achieving verification required a large investment of time and resources up front, knowing that advancing and elevating our care will shine forth a halo effect.

How can we celebrate the achievement?

Great question! Let’s celebrate by sharing the news! We want to educate others, especially the Emergency Medical Services teams in our area. So, let’s talk about it inside and outside of the hospital. I must give special thanks to our extremely supportive administration team, our diligent and enthusiastic trauma staff, our dedicated physicians, and everyone who changed their routines to implement new policies and team members. This was a group effort! Congratulations everyone!

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