Mercy received the designation following a survey by the Arkansas Department of Health, which is administering the statewide trauma system for the first time. The system connects hospitals, ambulance services and other emergency responders statewide to transfer trauma patients as quickly as possible to the facility best able to treat their specific injuries.
A Level III trauma center has resources for emergency resuscitation, surgery and intensive care of most trauma patients. The designation also requires transfer agreements with Level 1 or Level 2 trauma centers that provide additional care for exceptionally severe injuries.
“We feel like we can care for close to 90% of traumatic injuries here,” said Linda Nelson, St. Edward Mercy trauma coordinator. “We’re proud to have a highly trained emergency department staff and a rapid response surgical team that includes general surgeons, orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons. In addition, we also have a pastoral care staff that provides emotional support to trauma victims and their families.”
The trauma system was started due to alarming trauma statistics in the state. A 2008 report by the American College of Surgeons said the overall injury fatality rate in Arkansas is nearly 50 percent higher than the national average, and the injury fatality rate for motor vehicle crashes (the second most common injury type in the state) is 60 percent higher than the national average.
In addition to timely transport and treatment of trauma patients, the statewide system also requires hospitals to provide ongoing trauma education. Already more than 120 nurses at St. Edward Mercy have participated in the trauma nursing core course. St. Edward Mercy also held the area’s first advanced trauma life support class for physicians and surgeons.
“Trauma treatment is constantly advancing so ongoing trauma education is vital to providing excellent care,” said Dr. Chris Coleman, trauma medical director.
In addition to trauma care, trauma prevention is also part of the program. Community outreach classes on subjects like fall prevention for the elderly and distracted driving for teens are offered in an effort to help keep people out of the emergency department.