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published 2009

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HAHC earns Level 3 trauma title

By Starrla Cray
Staff Writer

Car crashes, fire injuries, falls . . . trauma can occur without warning, but as a Level III trauma hospital, Hutchinson Area Health Care (HAHC) is prepared to handle these serious situations.

HAHC is one of 20 hospitals in the state to receive this title from the Minnesota Department of Health.

“Emergency services has always been one of our strengths,” said HAHC spokesperson Tracy Hassan.

“Trauma is the third leading cause of death in Minnesota,” noted Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dr. Sanne Magnan. “The goal of the trauma system is to decrease injured patients’ time to care by making sure their medical needs are appropriately matched with hospital resources.”

To earn a Level III designation, HAHC had to meet high standards of commitment, clinical and equipment resources, and staff training, Hassan said. HAHC also participates in a continuous performance improvement process.

Four out of the 134 hospitals in the Minnesota Hospital Association are Level I trauma hospitals, including St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale, and Regions Hospital in St. Paul. To be a Level I, a hospital has to have a neurologist on staff.

Level II has to have a neurologist on call and available within 30 minutes. Three hospitals received this designation, Hassan said.

Although HAHC doesn’t have a neurologist on-site, the hospital does have access to other resources.

One example of this is the helicopters at the back entrance. They are ready to quickly transport a patient to a nearby facility if needed, Hassan said.

“That first hour after injury is really significant,” she added.

For a severely injured person, the time between sustaining an injury and receiving definitive care is the most important predictor of survival, called the “golden hour.”

The chance of survival diminishes with time. States with trauma systems have seen survival rates increase by 15 to 20 percent, Hassan said.

“We are proud of the hard work and training that our ER and ambulance staff have undergone to achieve this designation,” reported Emergency Services RN Ev Mulder. “The trauma designation has facilitated enhancements to providing the best possible care for patients sustaining traumatic injuries.”

On average, trauma claims the lives of 2,400 Minnesotans each year, Hassan noted. Minnesota began developing a comprehensive statewide trauma system in August 2005.