West Reading >> Reading Hospital has been accredited as a Level 1 Trauma Center — the highest distinction for a trauma center in Pennsylvania. The designation was announced July 24 by the Pennsylvania Trauma Systems Foundation.
As Berks County’s only Level 1 Trauma Center, patients in the region with the most life-threatening injuries will be brought to Reading Hospital.
According to the Pennsylvania Trauma Systems Foundation website, the most common causes of injury that bring patients to a trauma center are falls and motor vehicle crashes, which can cause life-threatening trauma in multiple areas of the body. Other common trauma injuries are burns, gunshot wounds and assaults.
Level 1 trauma centers provide the highest degree of resources with a full spectrum of specialists and must have trauma research and surgical residency programs, according to the organization. In addition, the center must treat at least 600 major trauma patients per year.
Prior to this new level of accreditation, Reading Hospital was accredited as a Level II Trauma Center, a distinction it earned in 2005. In 2017, Reading Hospital had 3,101 trauma patient contacts.
In an interview Wednesday, Dr. Forrest Fernandez, MD, Chief, Section of Trauma and Surgical Critical Care at Reading Hospital, said moving up to a Level 1 center was part of a five year plan for the hospital.
Time and effort, he said were put into having in place subspecialists with the appropriate training for a Level 1 trauma center.
On the research end, Fernandez said hospitals seeking Level 1 accreditation need to reach a certain level of research — a threshold Reading hospital met “one to two years ago.”
Another piece of attaining Level 1 Trauma Center status is having faculty involved in national efforts to advance trauma care, Fernandez said.
“All together, this allows us to have the ability to treat anything we might encounter and be a resource to smaller hospitals in the region,” he added.
Fernandez said the 2016 opening of the Reading HealthPlex for Advanced Surgical and Patient Care brought enhancements for the Trauma Center.
The trauma bay has grown to allow the center to treat nine patients at once; a CT scanner and satellite bloodbank are now located in the trauma bay; and a trauma operating room is now close to the trauma bay. All of these steps, according to Fernandez, save crucial time when treating a trauma patient.
As part of the Level 1 accreditation process, several Pennsylvania Trauma Systems Foundation inspectors spent 24 hours at the hospital, looking at data from a range of 30 to 60 cases the inspectors selected.
“They look at all the charts, meet with us and go through how care is performed. That becomes the basis for the decision,” Fernandez said, adding that Reading Hospital is the third Pennsylvania facility to go from a Level 2 to a Level 1 center.
“This accreditation would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of our trauma team, including all of the physicians, nurses and clinicians who have been specially trained to care for trauma patients. It’s truly a testament to their enduring dedication through the rigorous accreditation process and their commitment to providing the highest quality and safety for the communities and patients we serve,” Clint Matthews, Tower Health president and CEO said in a press release.
Pennsylvania was one of the first states to develop a trauma system, according to Fernandez. Accreditation is done by the Pennsylvania Trauma Systems Foundation.
“Pennsylvania has one of the most robust trauma systems in the country and had been ahead of the national curve, he said.
Fernandez added that with the way trauma centers are currently located in the region, it is possible to get to a trauma center within about 30 to 60 minutes.
“We are really lucky in this moment in time with the way the centers are distributed in this region,” he said.
Reading Hospital is located in West Reading and is a member of Tower Health. For more information visit www.towerhealth.org.
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