St. John achieves Level I trauma center status

By: Maria Allard | Grosse Pointe Times | Published April 10, 2018

 Karrie Brown, is the trauma program manager at St. John Hospital and Medical Center in Detroit. St. John Hospital and Medical Center recently became a Level I trauma center to treat patients with the most severe forms of trauma injuries.

Karrie Brown, is the trauma program manager at St. John Hospital and Medical Center in Detroit. St. John Hospital and Medical Center recently became a Level I trauma center to treat patients with the most severe forms of trauma injuries.

Photo by Deb Jacques

 Dr. Joseph Buck is the trauma medical director at St. John Hospital and Medical Center in Detroit.

Dr. Joseph Buck is the trauma medical director at St. John Hospital and Medical Center in Detroit.

Photo by Deb Jacques

DETROIT — St. John Hospital and Medical Center at Moross Road and Mack Avenue recently became a Level I trauma center to treat patients with the most severe forms of trauma injuries.

By recently achieving Level I status, hospital staff have advanced their resources to treat patients suffering from severe trauma who have been brought to St. John either by ambulance, family or friends. The goal is to treat patients from as far away as Port Huron.

“It’s the most seriously injured patients. We very rapidly assess the patient’s injuries and we treat them,” said Dr. Joseph Buck, trauma medical director at St. John Hospital and Medical Center. “Our trauma care team is comprised of some of the most dedicated and skilled nurses and specialists in the region. This designation reflects our systemwide commitment to provide the highest quality care to patients.”

The trauma physicians care for trauma patients from their first moments at the hospital until they have fully recovered. That includes their initial visit in the emergency room, through surgery, from the intensive care unit to a regular hospital room, and through rehabilitation.

St. John Hospital and Medical Center was verified Dec. 20, 2017, as an adult Level I trauma center by the American College of Surgeons, which is the national organization responsible for evaluating and verifying hospitals as designated trauma centers.

“The hospital gave the administrative commitment to provide the additional funding support for Level I verification,” Buck said.

With the Level I trauma center status, the hospital houses an entire team of people 24 hours a day to attend to the trauma patients’ needs. Services available include coverage by board-certified trauma surgeons, as well as staff in other specialties, including neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery, anesthesiology, emergency medicine, radiology, and adult critical care.

“They see the patients in a timely fashion,” said Buck, who added that patients receive care whether or not they have medical insurance.

There is always one trauma doctor on-site and one backup trauma physician available. Other available trauma staff members are on-site as well and can include the emergency room doctors — who are separate from the trauma doctors — along with teams of residents, nurses and specialists.

Other Level I trauma specialties include vascular surgery; cardiothoracic surgery; ear, nose and throat; oral maxillofacial surgery; plastic surgery; internal medicine; and more.

Social workers; case managers; dieticians; chaplains; and physical, occupational and respiratory therapists also work closely with the trauma patients and their families. The Level I trauma center status is only available for adult patients ages 18 and older, and funding to undergo the Level I process was provided through St. John.

If a trauma patient comes in, the trauma team on-site receives a page and heads over to the ER.

“We do whatever needs to be done,” said Karrie Brown, trauma program manager at St. John Hospital and Medical Center.

That could be starting an IV, providing advanced trauma life support, stabilizing the patient, conducting documentation and more.

“We follow the guidelines set by the American College of Surgeons, and I coordinate to make sure everything is done according to the trauma standards,” Brown said. “Every situation is different. We have to work well together so the patient is receiving the best care possible.”

Many trauma patients spend a lengthy time in the hospital recovering from their injuries.

“Sometimes we have patients here for months,” Brown said. “We try to follow our guidelines to get them back functioning as best they can.”

The trauma center will undergo a reverification review in three years by the ACS. Brown said the trauma staff prepared for more than a year to achieve Level I trauma center status.

“It took a lot of work from the whole team,” Brown said.

St. John Hospital and Medical Center is one of four Level I trauma centers in the Ascension system nationwide. St. Vincent Indianapolis Hospital, Dell Seton Medical Center at the University of Texas at Austin, and Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas are the other three.