Memorial Hospital Central designated as southern Colorado’s first Level I trauma center

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UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central announced today that it has been designated by the state as a Level I Trauma Center, making it one of only four hospitals in Colorado with the highest classification for trauma care.

“A Level I distinction recognizes the hospital has the ability to treat severe and complex injuries, giving southern Colorado residents rapid access to top-level emergency and trauma care without having to go to Denver,” according to a news release issued by UCHealth.

The state finalized the designation on April 16 after a survey and review process, and the hospital is the first in southern Colorado to receive the classification.

“Earning this Level I designation has taken years of planning and advancements,” said Joel Yuhas, Memorial’s president and CEO in the release. “Memorial has recruited some of the nation’s best trauma surgeons, upgraded our facilities, led important research, and hired excellent subspecialty surgeons to support the trauma program. This preparation, and the Level I designation, will result in more lives being saved.”

According to UCHealth, hospital trauma designations are determined by criteria including medical resources and patient volumes.

“Key elements required to be a Level 1 trauma center include around-the-clock coverage by trauma surgeons and prompt availability of specialists in orthopedics, neurosurgery and anesthesiology, among others,” according to the release. “Such facilities also must be leaders in trauma prevention and education, conduct research and meet volume requirements for treating severely injured patients.”

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Memorial Central, which houses the state’s busiest emergency department, provided care in 2017 to more than 2,100 trauma patients who met trauma registry inclusion criteria, according to UCHealth, which explained the majority of trauma cases involve blunt injuries that are often the result of motor vehicle crashes, pedestrians or bicyclists hit by vehicles, falls and “penetrating trauma.”

Dr. Thomas Schroeppel, the hospital’s trauma medical director, said in the release that achieving a Level 1 designation is the fulfillment of a promise made to the community when Memorial became part of UCHealth in 2012.

“Because of the investments made in the hospital — both in technology and medical expertise — and the expansion of physician training programs through a strong collaboration with the University of Colorado School of Medicine, we are able to ensure southern Coloradans have access to top trauma and surgical critical care services,” Schroeppel said. “This is not just an honor for the hospital, but a time of celebration for Colorado Springs and beyond.”

Until now, Colorado’s only Level I trauma centers were located in the metro Denver region, and southern Colorado patients with the most severe injuries might have to fly to Denver for care.

“We congratulate UCHealth and Memorial Hospital on this designation. Colorado Springs residents are fortunate to receive care by the high caliber of medical professions serving our community,” Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers said in the release. “We appreciate UCHealth’s commitment to the Pikes Peak region and to providing its residents with access to excellent medical care.”

It is the third elite designation Memorial Central’s trauma center has received in 2018. The hospital also was verified as a Level I adult and Level II pediatric trauma center by the American College of Surgeons (ACS). The ACS reviewers highlighted the strong collaboration that has been built with Children’s Hospital Colorado that has led UCHealth Memorial to provide exceptional care to children.

“This highest level of trauma care means critically-injured patients stay closer to home, that families can more easily stay or visit them, and that the long process of healing and rehabilitation occurs not miles away, but across the street,” said Dr. David Steinbruner, Memorial Hospital’s chief of staff and an emergency medicine physician.

In January, Memorial Central become the first hospital in southern Colorado to be named a Comprehensive Stroke Center, a classification given to programs that offer the highest and most advanced level of stroke care. As the only hospital in the region with multiple teams of neurosurgeons and neuro-interventional physicians on-call 24/7, Memorial has the unique capabilities to quickly and expertly treat every kind of stroke or brain aneurysm. These advanced capabilities are saving lives and improving outcomes for patients because time is crucial in the treatment of stroke. Getting the best care rapidly can lead to a better recovery.