Over the last year, Texas Health Care trauma surgeons have taken on a leadership role to increase Tarrant County’s trauma center capacity by consulting with Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Grapevine as it pursues a Level II trauma center designation.
The third-largest county in Texas, Tarrant County currently has nine trauma centers to serve a population of almost two million people. With a growing population, more trauma centers – hospitals that have the staff and equipment to treat traumatic injuries and save lives – are needed. Per the Texas Department of State Health Services, the four levels of trauma center designation are:
Level I – Comprehensive
Level II – Major
Level III – Advanced
Level IV - Basic
Baylor Scott & White – Grapevine, which is in the rapidly-growing northeast corner of Tarrant County, began the process of pursuing trauma center designation in 2013 and entered active pursuit of this designation in November, 2015. Steven R. Newton, president of North Texas Operations with Baylor Scott & White Health, explained the reasoning to Community Impact Newspapers last year: “Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Grapevine is pursuing Level II trauma designation in response to the needs expressed by our community, including local fire departments and emergency medical services agencies. Becoming a trauma center will allow us to bring new, comprehensive services to those who are critically injured in northeast Tarrant County.”
Mr. Newton had previously worked with Texas Health Care’s CEO, Dr. Larry Tatum, at Baylor All Saints Hospital in Fort Worth. Mr. Newton talked with Dr. Tatum about the possibility of Texas Health Care trauma surgeons helping to guide Baylor Scott & White – Grapevine through the process of becoming a designated trauma center.
Dr. Tatum connected Mr. Newton with Texas Health Care member Dr. Raj Gandhi, a trauma surgeon experienced in obtaining trauma center designations. From the onset, Dr. Gandhi worked with Baylor Scott & White – Grapevine as it began designing its trauma program. One of the first steps was to install Texas Health Care member Dr. Bradley Putty as medical director at Baylor Scott & White – Grapevine. He was joined there by Dr. Brittney Culp and Dr. Ryan Balogh, also Texas Health Care surgeons.
Two additional trauma surgeons, Dr. Fernando Garcia and Dr. G. Robert Stephenson, joined Dr. Gandhi in providing regular consultation and advice to the Baylor Scott & White – Grapevine team. Together, they helped the hospital institute a series of protocols and best practices for trauma care. “The less variation in care, the better the outcomes,” explains Dr. Gandhi.
Baylor Scott & White – Grapevine had an initial consultation with the American College of Surgeons (ACS) in September, 2016. The ACS, which conducts the final on-site survey that determines if a hospital meets the standards for a trauma center designation, found the Grapevine hospital to be well-positioned to attain a Level II designation sometime in 2017.
When that designation occurs, all of Tarrant County will benefit, says Dr. Gandhi. The more hospitals in the county available to admit and treat trauma patients, the better it is for everyone. As trauma center capacity increases, travel time to the hospital will be reduced and life-saving care will begin that much sooner. In the world of trauma, minutes count.
Already, Baylor Scott & White – Grapevine is seeing increased demand for its growing trauma services: the hospital has had about a 20 percent increase in monthly trauma patients over the course of the last year. Most importantly, residents of northeast Tarrant County have a great health care resource nearby in the event of an emergency.
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