Kadlec designated Level II Trauma Center

August 11, 2023 Providence News Team

The Washington State Department of Health has designated Kadlec Regional Medical Center as a Level II Trauma Center, one of only two in the state east of the Cascade Mountains.

For our community members, the designation means that in their backyard is one of the few medical centers in Washington that has the teams of specialists, equipment, and resources necessary to treat trauma. For a critically injured person, this can make the difference between life and death.

Research has shown that if severely injured people reach the right hospital with the right team of specialists to treat their specific injuries within an hour, their chance of survival dramatically increases. This is often referred to as the “golden hour”. Washington State’s Trauma System, which assigns hospitals level designations based on their trauma capability, is designed around this principle.

“Kadlec and Providence are making a significant investment for the benefit of the community, and this is an investment that has real-world implications for people in the Tri-Cities and in Washington,” said Dr. Eduardo Smith Singares, Medical Director of Trauma and Emergency Surgical Services at Kadlec. “There is significant data that shows if a patient receives care during the golden hour, the outcome is better, not just in survival, but in functional recovery.”

Having to air transport a patient to a distant medical center is sometimes necessary, but it also increases the time it takes for the person to reach specialized treatment and is costly for the patient and their families, he said. Kadlec’s Level II designation will strongly decrease the number of transports that are necessary. Kadlec also has been designated a Level III Pediatric Trauma Center, the only one in the Tri-Cities.

Washington State has only one Level 1 Trauma Center, Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. Until now, Washington’s only Level II Trauma Center east of the Cascades was Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane.

Kadlec leadership has long believed that Central and Southeastern Washington needed – and deserved – a high level of trauma care coverage closer to home. Their journey to achieve a Level II trauma designation has spanned more than a decade.

“It is a very rigorous process,” said Rebecca Hammons, Kadlec Trauma Program Manager. “I started as the trauma program manager in 2013, the work started well before that.  It’s also important to note that it was not just our trauma team working on it. It was our nursing staff, Imaging, lab, really all our departments. Nearly everyone invested time to achieve it.”

Over the years, Kadlec has strategically assembled teams of advanced specialists including neurosurgeons, orthopedic surgeons, trauma surgeons, cardiothoracic surgeons and more, raising the level of healthcare available in this community to a new height.

“Because of the required specialties, a trauma center designation takes many years to build,” Hammons said. “Having all of these specialties available for lifesaving care is going to save lives.”

Background about Washington's Trauma System:

Prior to the creation of state trauma systems, there were no standardized trainings or protocols for the treatment of trauma, and ambulances didn’t have any guidance to determine which hospitals could best treat injured people. Ambulances took trauma victims to whatever hospital was closest, regardless of whether that hospital had the specialists needed to treat the patients. Time was lost, and so were lives.

Washington State established its trauma system in 1990. The Washington State Trauma System designates hospitals from Level 1 (the highest) to Level V for treatment of adults. It has a separate designation specifically for the treatment of children. Washington State posts the trauma designations for hospitals here.

Level I trauma centers must be capable of providing system leadership and comprehensive trauma care for all injuries. Most Level I trauma centers are university-based teaching hospitals due to the resources required for patient care, education, and research. 

Level II centers provide definitive trauma care for a wide range of injuries and injury severity and may take on additional responsibilities in the region related to education, system leadership, and disaster planning. 

Level III trauma centers provide care to patients with mild to moderate injuries, and have a process in place to rapidly evaluate, treat and transfer patients whose needs exceed their capabilities. 

Most hospitals in Washington are Level III or lower. Many do not have pediatric trauma designations.

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