Wondering what a Level III trauma center can do for patients who come in for emergency care? Learn more about the importance of Level III hospitals and how they're ready and prepared to care for patients based on their different needs.

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Dream Team of Level III Trauma Centers Streamline Emergency Care

Wondering what a Level III trauma center can do for patients who come in for emergency care? Learn more about the importance of Level III hospitals and how they're ready and prepared to care for patients based on their different needs.

Level III trauma centers have a unique ability to mitigate traffic to Level I hospitals by providing expert emergency care. The lead physicians and directors at Atrium Health’s surrounding Level III trauma centers, Atrium Health Cabarrus and Atrium Health Cleveland, explain how their hospitals benefit the community .

Matthew Fox, MD is the medical director of trauma at Atrium Health Cabarrus in Concord, NC. Since the inception of its Level III trauma center over 25 years ago, Cabarrus has grown to offer prompt trauma care and is especially known for its comprehensive care of injured patients.

“At Cabarrus, we offer 24/7 in-house acute care and trauma surgery, neurosurgical surgery for spine fractures, non-operative head bleeds, interventional radiology and orthopedic trauma. With our services we are able to take care of multi-injured patient in a way that makes us very proud.  Since we have a high geriatric population, being able to stay close to home is important for their comfort,” says Dr. Fox

Elizabeth Freeman, Atrium Health Cabarrus trauma program director, affirms the value of local care, “After a traumatic event, “staying near one’s hometown hospital saves critical time when accessing care and improves the patient’s support network for optimal recovery” We help locally so only the sickest of the sick need to be transported to our Level I hospital.”

The organization of the care team is crucial at every trauma level. Freeman stresses the importance of streamlined operations, “The structure of a trauma team is very important and we teach that teamwork is vital for excellent care delivery. All departments that touch the care of a trauma patient are specifically trained for the needs of injured patients.”

Quick, Life-Saving Decisions

At the scene of the emergency, the local EMS teams are experts at making the call on taking patients directly to a Level I hospital. If patients ever need to be transferred from the Level III center, the MedCenter Air team transports patients quickly and safely by ground or air.

Atrium Health Cleveland, which is located in Shelby NC, was the first Level III trauma center in NC to offer advanced emergency care. It serves the greater Cleveland County and surrounding region. Jiselle Bock, MD, surgeon and trauma director, and Angela Alexander, the trauma program manager, explain Atrium Health Cleveland’s role in the community.

In trauma, “the golden hour” refers to the time window in which the majority of deaths happen. By speeding up the care process, deaths can be prevented. Dr. Bock explains how the presence of a Level III trauma center solves this large problem regarding emergency care.

“A helicopter ride to a Level I center only takes 11 minutes, but it used to take longer to coordinate care and activate a patient transfer as a standard hospital. Now, as a verified Level III trauma center, we can get in touch with ED physicians at our Level I facility immediately through an internal messaging system — no communication delays. We can also care for most minor to moderate injuries right here at Atrium Health Cleveland without a transfer. We have on-site supplies and always have blood ready for our patients without needing to wait.”

Alexander has lived in the Cleveland area for over 30 years and has witnessed the hospital’s growth first-hand. “Atrium Health Cleveland is a well-established trauma center that has worked hard to develop community education to prevent trauma. We go to the community to teach about pool safety and gun safety to reduce trauma before it happens, as well as car seat safety. The funding comes from being in this established Atrium Health network, and we’re grateful to be able to do this.”

Dr. Bock agrees on the value of community instruction. “We have an idea that there is no such thing as an accident. Trauma is a public health epidemic. By getting in the community, Cleveland has made a huge impact and that has saved lives.”

Never Complacent

Educating the community and promoting safety is just part of the hospital’s rigorous work. Atrium Health Cleveland also goes under continual self-reflection during staff meetings and strives to improve at every angle. On top of this, the hospital is always preparing for its official redesignation process which occurs every four years.

“Being a North Carolina designated trauma center, we have agreed to uphold certain care standards. Atrium Health Cleveland must stand up to the rigorous redesignation process through the state. We meet as a team and evaluate what we can do better. Being part of a statewide system of trauma allows us to develop care and adhere to unified guidelines to provide the top level of care for critically ill patients — this is the biggest difference between a designated trauma facility vs. a standard hospital.”

A Future of Continued Progress

The future of trauma care across Georgia and the Carolinas has never looked brighter.

Dr. Fox is proud to serve on behalf of Atrium Health Cabarrus. “It has been rewarding to be in this community for the past seven years and watch the growth of accessibility and quality of our care. We’re proud of that and continue to strive to improve.”

Dr. Bock is also proud of the progress of their Level III trauma center and hopeful for its future. “Having strong supportive administrative leadership and the strong groundwork of professionals, we undergo a continual process of quality improvement. We are not complacent on anything; we are constantly looking for what can be done better and push ourselves to do better than ever before.”