Upstate University Hospital, Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital become first in state to earn national verification for trauma service

Upstate University Hospital and Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital are the first in the state to receive national verification as a Level 1 trauma center by the American College of Surgeons (ACS) in recognition of the optimal trauma care the center provides patients.

Verification as Level 1 trauma centers for adults and children followed an intensive two-day onsite review, held in December, by medical experts in the field of trauma.  They reviewed information related to patient outcomes, physician and nurse training and credentialing, facilities, trauma education and outreach, staffing and administrative functions.

“The national verification as a Level 1 trauma center for adults and children by the American College of Surgeons signifies that Upstate has the expertise, the facility and the resources to provide the optimal trauma care for all injured patients,” said Upstate University Hospital Chief Executive Officer John McCabe, MD.  “The work that goes on in our trauma center to save lives throughout Central and Upstate New York is a testament to those employees who enter our doors everyday committed to providing the best care, even in some of the gravest of situations. I congratulate our staff on this outstanding achievement.”

The state has previously designated trauma centers, but this action, known as verification, is the first national review of Upstate’s trauma services and the first to separately highlight the pediatric trauma service.

“It would be difficult to overstate the importance of this accomplishment,” said Thomas Welch, MD, medical director of Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital.  “We have been providing complex trauma care to children in the region for decades, and we have always believed that we did a good job of it. What this development means is that a very rigorous external review of every component of our program, ranging from policies and personnel to outcomes, has provided an objective expert opinion confirming the high quality of our trauma care.”

Welch continued: “For physicians and hospital staff, it gives us the satisfaction of knowing that we are providing care which is equivalent to that in the major national centers. It also allows us to network and benchmark with nationally known programs. For the patients and families in our region, it should provide assurance that the care they receive is state-of-the-art, and equivalent to that which they would receive in well-known programs throughout the country.”

James Gregory, MD, division chief of Trauma at Upstate, said the national verification as a Level 1 trauma center by the ACS, signifies for patients that the most appropriate trauma care can be found at Upstate. “This verification reflects our ability to give and deliver the highest possible care to our trauma patients.”

Tamer Ahmed, MD, medical director of pediatric trauma, highlighted the importance of the ACS verification.

“This accomplishment demonstrates the uniqueness of Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital in New York state, that we are the first to be recognized for our special trauma team of physicians, nurses, social workers and others all poised and ready to care for some our region’s children when they are most vulnerable,” he said.

The trauma center received notice that it earned official verification of its Level 1 status by the Verification Review Committee, an ad hoc committee on trauma of the American College of Surgeons, last month.

Among other items assessed by the onsite review team, was the ability of Upstate’s trauma team—emergency department physicians, nurses, surgeons, respiratory therapists, lab technicians, ICU staff and social workers—to mobilize quickly when a trauma call comes into the hospital.

“The continued training of our trauma team has enabled us to respond in mere minutes to any trauma call that comes to Upstate,” said Maryann Fields, RN, Upstate’s trauma coordinator, who played a key role in the hospital’s verification by the ACS.  “Families should know that our trauma team is ready and able to treat any injury that comes through our door.”

Last year there were roughly 11,000 visits to the pediatric emergency department with 2,200 designated as trauma cases.Of the pediatric trauma cases, 97 percent were classified as blunt trauma, comprised of contusions, lacerations, bone fractures, abrasions, the majority of which occur in motor vehicle crashes.  The remaining trauma cases were identified as penetrating traumas, which are associated with violent crime, such as gunshots or stabbings.

Last year there were 66,827 visits to adult emergency department with 17,531cases classified as traumas.  Of the trauma cases, 92 percent were classified as blunt trauma. The remaining trauma cases were identified as penetrating traumas, which are associated with violent crime, such as gunshots or stabbings.

The trauma service serves a 14-county region and facilitates transports from ambulance and first aid crews from all across the region.  Additionally, the trauma receives between 200 and 275 air transports annually.

ACS highlighted the various physician specialties on call to respond to pediatric trauma cases, including neurosurgeons, orthopedic surgeons as well as specialists in cardiology, infectious disease, pulmonary medicine and nephrology.

The verification report also highlighted not only the professional education programs offered by the trauma team, but the significant public outreach, most notably the “Let’s Not Meet By Accident” program (a reality based trauma prevention/alcohol education program for teens who are new drivers) and the bicycle helmet program that gives away several thousand free bike helmets annually.

Established by the ACS in 1987, the COT and Consultation/Verification Program for Hospitals promotes the development of trauma centers in which participants provide not only the hospital resources necessary for trauma care, but also the entire spectrum of care to address the needs of all injured patients.  This spectrum encompasses the prehospital phase through the rehabilitation process.

Verified trauma centers must meet essential criteria that ensure trauma care and institutional performance, as outlined by the American College of Surgeons’ Committee on Trauma in its current Resources for Optimal Care of the Injured Patient manual.

The ACS Committee on Trauma’s verification program does not designate trauma centers.  Rather, the program provides confirmation that a trauma center has demonstrated its commitment to providing the highest quality trauma care for all injured patients. The actual establishment and the designation of trauma centers is the function of local, regional or state health care systems agencies, such as local emergency medical services (EMS) authority.

There are five separate categories of verification in the program.  Each category has specific criteria that must be met by a facility seeking that level of verification.  Each hospital has an on-site review by a team of experienced site reviewers, who use the current Resources for the Optimal Care of the Injured Patient manual as a guideline in conducting the survey.

The ACS is a scientific and educational association of surgeons that was founded in 1913 to raise the standards of the surgical education and practice and to improve the care of the surgical patient.  The College has more than 72,000 members and it is the largest association of surgeons in the world.  Longstanding achievements have placed the ACS in the forefront of American surgery and have made it an important advocate for all surgical patients.

Caption: Ed Wasilewski, right, speaks to NewsChannel 9 reporter Jeff Kulikowski about the care he received from Upstate University Hospital last January, when he was involved in an accident with a pick up truck while riding his longboard on Route 20 in Morrisville.  He was airlifted to Upstate with numerous life-threatening injuries including broken ribs, a broken pelvis, ruptured spleen and a punctured lung. Today he has few, if any, physical restrictions.  Wasilewski told of his life-saving care at Upstate, as part of the hospital’s announcement that the American College of Surgeons has verified Upstate’s Level 1 trauma center for adults and children.

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