HealthONE - March 02, 2020

When you or a loved one are faced with a medical emergency, getting care fast is critical. Emergency rooms are often designated as trauma centers which simply means that a hospital is equipped and staffed to provide care for patients suffering from major traumatic injuries. Hospitals within the United States are given a designation of the level of that center based on the available resources and number of patients admitted annually. The designations range from a Level I Trauma Center to a Level V Trauma Center. The American College of Surgeons (ACS) verifies the presence of the resources available at the hospital in order to be listed in Resources for Optimal Care of the Injured Patient. In Colorado, a Level III Trauma Center is encouraged to stabilize and then send highly complex injuries to a Level II facility which is qualified to handle those types of injuries. The largest jump in trauma capability is from a Level III to Level II. The highest levels of trauma centers have access to 24/7 specialists, including emergency medicine, trauma surgery, critical care, neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery, anesthesiology, and radiology, as well as a wide variety of highly specialized and sophisticated surgical and diagnostic equipment.

HealthONE offers the full spectrum of trauma care across our Denver-metro system. Swedish Medical Center provides Level I trauma care, while The Medical Center of Aurora, Sky Ridge Medical Center, and now North Suburban Medical Center, all offer Level II trauma care. North Suburban Medical Center (NSMC) recently received the Level II designation and is a 150-bed hospital with 28 ICU beds and 40 beds in the emergency department. The ER receives approximately 55,000-70,000 visits per year and was upgraded to a Level II Trauma Center, allowing NSMC to better serve trauma patients from the surrounding community when it comes to trauma care.

How did NSMC receive its Level II Trauma Center designation?

NSMC was a Level III Trauma Center for several years. In 2018, Dr. Jeffrey Levine was asked by the hospital’s CEO, Daphne David, to come lead the effort to upgrade the hospital to a Level II. To receive its Level II Trauma center status, NSMC upgraded its orthopedic and neurological and spine coverage. Twelve additional trauma suites were added, and additional staff was added to the emergency department, including a new program director, new medical director, and a new nurse administrator. Additional personnel were also added to the ICU unit. The hospital also added a 128-Slice CT scanner and a separate cath lab. Furthermore, call service for physicians was expanded to provide backup coverage of specialties if needed. The result is a better trauma team and equipment to provide the intensive care needed to trauma patients.

Why is this designation important for the Denver-area?

The North Suburban Medical Center is located in Adams County, the fastest-growing county in Colorado. The immediate area around NSMC has over 400,000 residents with over 175,000 people traveling by NSMC each day on the interstate. Before the Level II Trauma Center designation was obtained by NSMC, the closest Level II center was 30 minutes away. In short, the community was underserved for trauma services. Furthermore, the hospital now has an orthopedic fellowship-trained in trauma, making the facility one of only two in the entire Denver area. “This is very good for patients and the community. Care for serious trauma can be received much quicker which is vitally important. A lengthy travel to metro Denver for complex trauma cases is no longer necessary,” stated Dr. Jeffrey Levine, Trauma Medical Director “Another important result is because of this upgrade in trauma capabilities, the quality of the care has improved throughout the hospital. Now there are more specialists, more staff and advanced technology which means a higher level of care throughout the entire hospital,” stated Kara Bernard, Director of Trauma Services. The designation of a Level II Trauma Center for NSMC also allows for better EMS services. Previously a trauma transport to a Level II Trauma Center would take up to an hour or more round trip, causing that ambulance and the EMS team to not be available for other calls. About North Suburban Medical Center For nearly 40 years, North Suburban has served the north metro Denver community at its location in Thornton, Colorado with an unwavering dedication to quality and community. Learn more about NSMC and the Level II Trauma Center today.