St. Patrick Hospital is the only verified Level II Trauma Center by the American College of Surgeons and Montana State, Accredited Stroke Center and Accredited Chest Pain Center in the region. As a Level II Trauma center we can assure:
The trauma patient is injured due to some external cause—a motor vehicle accident, a fall, or a gunshot wound, for example. This patient arrives in the Emergency Department with a different set of needs than does someone who is critically ill—for example, someone having a heart attack. The medical response required to meet the needs of the trauma patient is complex.
Since the response is specialized, and must be delivered quickly, trauma patients are best served when they are cared for in a hospital that has made a commitment to specialize in their care—a Trauma Center. Studies have shown that injured patients cared for in Trauma Centers have a mortality rate 25% lower than injured patients cared for in hospitals that are not Trauma Centers.
In Montana, trauma is the number one killer of people aged 1 to 44. And for every death, up to 10 people are permanently disabled by their injuries.
Many of the injured patients cared for at Level II Trauma Centers are initially treated at a smaller, outlying facility. Once the patient arrives at the Trauma Center, he or she is met by the trauma team—an emergency room at the ready with a trauma surgeon and specialists, such as neurosurgeons, and the surgical team at the ready in the operating room.
Even at 3 AM, if it appears the patient is seriously injured, the team is ready within 15 minutes. The team will quickly provide the treatments to stabilize the patient. Many of these patients will need emergency surgery and/or admittance to the Intensive Care Unit.
There are different levels of Trauma Centers, classified by their adherence to rigorous standards of patient care. Montana hospitals have been verified by a national group, the American College of Surgeons (ACS). Level I Centers are the highest-level classification. These are teaching and research facilities in large cities, and require all specialists to be available in the hospital 24 hours a day. The nearest Level I Trauma Center is Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
The next highest level is Level II. Specialists in these Centers have committed to responding to the ER within 15 minutes of being called for trauma patients. There are four Level II Centers in Montana:
There are two Level III Centers, Community Medical Center in Missoula and Bozeman Deaconess. These Centers may not have specialists who are available to respond within 30 minutes of being called.
Level II Trauma Centers also participate in Injury Prevention programs that aim to keep people from being injured in the first place. Most traumas are avoidable by driving safely and by wearing helmets while riding bicycles, motorcycles, horses or ATVs.
In order for the critically injured patient to receive the best care and the best chance of survival, the entire system must function well. Dispatch, EMS and the hospitals must work together. The goal is to get injured patients to the right place in the right amount of time.