Forty years of lifesaving care

April 11, 2024

At Providence Holy Cross Medical Center, the trauma center serves as a vital lifeline for those in critical need. Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, the trauma center continues an unwavering commitment to serving the San Fernando Valley, upholding the highest standards of trauma care and delivering compassionate service to patients in their most vulnerable times. As we reflect on the past 40 years of care, we can see the trauma center’s remarkable evolution and its continual efforts to enhance services and improve patient outcomes.

Established in 1984, the trauma center was born of a need for specialized care for severely injured people in northern Los Angeles County. Dedicated to providing lifesaving treatment to patients, it quickly became one of California’s most highly regarded comprehensive trauma centers, and its strategic location, close to five freeways, continues to facilitate swift responses to accidents or disasters.

As a Level II trauma center, Providence Holy Cross hosts a team of excellent surgeons, emergency care physicians, nurses and other professionals trained to give immediate care to critically injured patients. A blood bank, CT imaging and neurosurgery and orthopedics services are among the other resources available on-site.

“Maintaining a trauma center is a big investment in the community,” says David Hanpeter, M.D., medical director of the trauma program. “It requires specialists and resources to be here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”

The center has been part of the Los Angeles County Trauma System since its inception and has received verification status from the American College of Surgeons for its commitment to the highest standards for a community-based hospital trauma program. Through the tireless efforts of its staff and the support of the community, Providence Holy Cross has become a trusted beacon of hope for trauma victims and their families.

Performing as a top-tier trauma center means not only treating injured patients but embodying the principles of comprehensive care, collaboration and coordination, and community engagement.

“We need lots of people from lots of different areas,” says trauma program manager Melanie Crowley. “It’s very expensive to run a multidisciplinary center like this, but Holy Cross has stuck with it to help people in need.”

Trauma surgeons at Providence Holy Cross are trained to address a wide range of injuries and medical conditions. From initial assessment and diagnosis to surgical intervention and postoperative care, the trauma team is equipped to handle every aspect of patient management, providing seamless continuity of care.

“Trauma surgeons have to take care of the entire patient. You must be able to work through what injuries there are and recognize priorities right away,” Dr. Hanpeter says. “Not only do we have surgeons who can do that, but they also really care and relate really well to the patients and the staff. The dedication to patient outcomes here is what sets us apart.”

Effective trauma care also relies on seamless coordination among various medical specialties and disciplines. “I think one of the really important things about Holy Cross is our culture here and our relationships with one another,” says Jeana Rockette Adams, DNP, clinical coordinator for the trauma department. “It spans across every department — we have open communication.”

Beyond providing acute medical care, the trauma department at Providence Holy Cross actively engages in community outreach and injury prevention efforts. Initiatives such as the Stop the Bleed program help raise awareness about trauma prevention and empower people with lifesaving skills and safety tips. “We want to be proactive and teach how not to be a trauma patient,” Adams says.

Over the years, the center has significantly enhanced its services to ensure the highest standards of trauma care for the communities it serves. Since Dr. Hanpeter took over as director, the focus has shifted to recruiting surgeons who specialize in critical care.  

Providence Holy Cross now has five full-time trauma surgeons, all double board-certified in general surgery and surgical critical care. While it’s common for doctors to work at multiple hospitals, these surgeons make Providence Holy Cross their home. “This is their only major commitment,” says Dr. Hanpeter. “Consequently, the continuity of care for the patients and families is so much better. You can count on people to be here when they need to be here.”

The trauma center has also expanded its staff to include a team of nurse practitioners (NPs). Crowley calls them “the boots on the ground seeing patients every day,” offering additional support and expertise, plus personalized care, on the front lines.

When it comes to continuous improvement efforts, Crowley says the trauma registrars are “unsung heroes.” Trained to carefully maintain data, as required by the American College of Surgeons, they keep track of everything from diagnoses and complications to comorbidities.

“We’ve really worked to increase the consistency and accuracy of our data,” Crowley says. “Their attention to detail ensures we have reliable data, which we learn from.”

Although no one ever wishes for a tragedy, Crowley says “the real learning “ comes from real-life experiences. She points to the Chatsworth Metrolink crash of 2008, for example. More than 100 injured people were transferred to trauma centers across Los Angeles County, with Providence Holy Cross receiving the most. “After a disaster, we look at what went well and what could go better.”

Through ongoing education and quality improvement initiatives, the trauma center stays abreast of the latest advancements in trauma care and incorporates best practices into its protocols. By embracing a culture of learning and innovation, it continuously raises the bar for patient care standards and outcomes.  

Visit our website to learn more about the trauma center at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center.

Previous Article
daVinci Xi robotic surgery program launches at St. Joseph Hospital
daVinci Xi robotic surgery program launches at St. Joseph Hospital

Following months of planning and approvals, the robotic surgery program at St. Joseph Hospital launched wit...

Next Article
Sisters celebrate Mother Bernard House, visit St. Joseph Hospital
Sisters celebrate Mother Bernard House, visit St. Joseph Hospital

Providence in Humboldt County hosted a “sisters’ reception” at the recently opened Mother Bernard House in ...