Atrium Health, Wake Forest Baptist Health, and Atrium Health Navicent are home to both Level I adult and Level I pediatric trauma centers. All have undergone the most rigorous verification through the American College of Surgeons. Level I trauma centers are also leaders in the community in educating the public about health.

News | 9 months ago

Top Tier Expertise: Level I Trauma Centers Bring the Most Comprehensive Care to Georgia and the Carolinas

Atrium Health, Wake Forest Baptist Health, and Atrium Health Navicent are home to both Level I adult and Level I pediatric trauma centers. All have undergone the most rigorous verification through the American College of Surgeons. Level I trauma centers are also leaders in the community in educating the public about health.

Atrium Health’s tightly-knit trauma care network is committed to providing the most advanced, life-saving medical care to the community. From gunshot wounds to motorcycle crash injuries, our teams are ready and prepared to offer the highest level of care possible for patients in critical need.

Our top performing Level I trauma centers in both adult and pediatric care extend from North Carolina all the way to Southern Georgia:

  1. Atrium Health Carolinas Medical Center F.H. “Sammy” Ross Jr. Trauma Center and Atrium Health Levine Children's Hospital Hemby Pediatric Trauma Center in Charlotte, NC
  2. Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and Brenner Children’s Hospital in Winston-Salem, NC
  3. Atrium Health Navicent The Medical Center in Macon, GA

Each of these facilities proudly represent the Atrium Health enterprise, and illustrate our continued dedication to providing the highest level of comprehensive care for critically injured patients throughout the Southeast.

Every three years, the American College of Surgeons (ACS) performs a comprehensive evaluation process to assess and improve trauma care. The ACS verifies trauma centers as Level I, Level II, or Level III based on the presence of the resources for optimal care of injured patients, including readiness, specialized trauma equipment, policies, patient care and performance improvement.

While these Level I centers can handle any emergency quickly,  Level II and Level III trauma centers that feed into the Level I network have the capability to keep trauma patients with mild cases closer to home. In this organized system, patients can get prompt, expert care based on their specific needs. The lead physicians and directors of these various trauma centers took the time to share their thoughts and insights about this streamlined system.

Prepared for Anything

Level I trauma centers have 24/7 capabilities to treat severe emergencies like brain and spine trauma, orthopedic trauma, pediatric trauma, surgical critical care, trauma in pregnancy, vascular trauma, and chest trauma.

Emergency Medical Services (EMS) also play a critical role in our region’s trauma care system and serves as the initial link to survival in the chain of trauma care. From the initial 9-1-1 call, to providing on-scene care, often in hazardous environments, Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT’s) and Paramedics must make quick time sensitive decisions to ensure that injured patients are quickly assessed, stabilized and transported to a verified trauma center. Our prehospital partner’s preparation and responsiveness makes a critical difference in the ability to save lives. Through services like MedCenter Air, patients can get to our Level I centers in a fraction of the time compared to ground transportation if necessary. Once transferred here, patients don't need to be moved from one facility to another. Families are treated together on one campus and post-trauma support and physical rehabilitation is offered on-site.

"Our center is the only one in the region that has 24/7 capabilities to treat severe emergencies," says Dr. A. Britton Christmas, medical director of the Atrium Health F.H. “Sammy” Ross Jr. Trauma Center. "It's truly a remarkable service to be able to provide this type of extensive patient care."

“We have the only Level I Pediatric Trauma Center in the region. We have the ability to treat life-threatening traumatic injuries in children of all ages. Plus, children can be treated in the same hospital center as their parents so families can stay close together as they recover from their injuries,” says Dr. Steven Teich co-medical director of the Atrium Health Levine Children's Hospital Hemby Pediatric Trauma Center.

On the Leading Edge: Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, in Winston-Salem, is home to the only Level I adult trauma center and Level I pediatric trauma center in the Triad region of North Carolina and was the first pediatric trauma center to receive Level I verification in the state. It is also one of only two burn centers in the state. Serving around a 150-mile radius, this hospital provides critical care to both urban and rural communities in western North Carolina, southwest Virginia, east Tennessee and West Virginia. Many trauma patients arrive on one of the health system’s three AirCare helicopters that are strategically located across the region. The crew includes a pilot, flight nurse and paramedic. The flight nurses and paramedics are certified in several areas of emergency care and have undergone extensive training in advanced airway management, transport physiology, burn and trauma care, pediatrics and cardiology. The aircraft are equipped with sophisticated life support and patient care equipment.

“We are honored to provide care to all the severe trauma patients in our region,” says Cyndi Mastropieri, the adult trauma and burn program manager at Wake Forest Baptist. “In addition, as an academic medical center, we are nationally known for our research, training, education and injury prevention programs. It’s a requirement for Level I centers to have psychological support and counselors for patients and their families. We have a nationally known trauma counseling program to meet the Level I standards for psychological support for our patients and families. We also have a large outpatient clinic where our multidisciplinary team provides follow-up care after discharge.”

Jason Hoth, MD, an acute care surgeon and the adult trauma program director at Wake Forest Baptist, praises the hospital’s seamless cooperation with multiple teams. “We participate in a regional advisory board and have strong relationships with our emergency medicine faculty. Also, through outreach and educational processes, we have great relationships with doctors in the emergency departments at the referring hospitals across the area.”

Ginger Wilkins, the pediatric trauma program manager at Brenner Children’s Hospital, part of Wake Forest Baptist, explains that experts are on-site 24/7 to provide lightning-fast care. “We have an attending physician at the bedside of a critically ill patient within 15 minutes and surgeons are available within 15 minutes for the most critically injured patients who meet the criteria for Level I activation. This is a huge commitment. In order to have Level I status, there must be a guarantee that immediate care is provided to the patient.”

Welcoming Atrium Health Navicent

The Medical Center, Navicent Health which was recently rebranded as Atrium Health Navicent, The Medical Center, officially joined the Atrium Health network in January 2020. The alliance has greatly expanded this Level I hospital’s ability to collaborate with Wake Forest Baptist Health and Carolinas Medical Center from clinical trials to insights on treatment options.

“Atrium Health Navicent, The Medical Center has been verified by the American College of Surgeons, which holds the highest standards for trauma center verification,” explains Dennis Ashley, MD, Director of Trauma at Atrium Health Navicent, The Medical Center. “Our hospital is strategically located in the middle of the state which allows us to provide care for central and south Georgia, serving 75 of Georgia’s 159 counties.”

Dr. Ashley says The Medical Center provides strong support for the region, not only through treatment of complex injuries, but also through injury prevention programs, education and outreach to the community.

Looking to the future, Atrium Health Navicent is training the next generation of surgeons through a general surgery residency program and is providing cutting edge surgical interventions through ongoing research, Dr. Ashley says.

Organization on Every Level

John K. Petty, MD a pediatric surgeon and the pediatric trauma medical director at Brenner Children’s Hospital, credits the quality of their care to the hospital's internal team. “It takes a great commitment from so many people to empower a Level I trauma center. Of course we think of the frontline care providers of many specialties and many levels of training. But to bring it all together, we need a program, medical director, performance improvement coordinators, registrars, injury prevention specialists and many, many more. Trauma is the ultimate health care ‘team sport.’”

The organization of the care team at Atrium Health’s Level I centers is also top-notch. Since these hospitals must meet rigorous standards to maintain verification, this requires a streamlined effort on all levels. For instance, Dr. Christmas credits CMC’s status as Best Regional Hospital by U.S. News & World Report five years in a row to its outstanding care team. As the flagship hospital in the Charlotte area, CMC leads by example by having excellent communication between nurses, sub-specialists, surgeons, nutrition staff, and other care specialists. By staying on the same page, they can stick to the optimal plan created for each patient.

Dr. Hoth also acknowledges the importance of having sub-specialists. “For any trauma center to be successful, you have to have strong support from your hospital administration. At Wake Forest Baptist, we have been very fortunate to have a solid team. You need teamwork on a large scale. You also have to have the full support of sub-specialists. We are very fortunate to have orthopedics, nurses, pediatric specialists, and other specialists on deck around the clock. We communicate well and often so that everybody is aligned to take care of patients. This is something I've always appreciated about Wake Forest Baptist.”

Dr. Ashley also appreciates the strategic partnership Atrium Health Navicent has with the other Level I hospitals in the Atrium Health enterprise. “Being in this network means our patients benefit from additional expertise and cutting-edge trauma research,” says Dr. Ashley. “With our three centers joining forces, Atrium Health Navicent now has access to innovations from clinical trials at these other hospitals too. We’ve already had some preliminary discussions about how we can share guidelines and improve practices. I am extremely excited about the opportunities ahead of us.” 

Learn more about the region’s best choice for trauma care.