On Nov. 7, 2011, the Georgia Department of Public Health designated WellStar Kennestone Hospital as a Level II Trauma Center, making WellStar Kennestone the only designated Trauma Center in WellStar Health System’s five county primary service area (Bartow, Cherokee, Cobb, Douglas and Paulding Counties). The designation comes after nearly two years of planning, implementation of a formal model for trauma care and the hiring of key physicians and support staff.
“This is an important day for not only WellStar but, more importantly, the residents of Northwest Georgia as they now have access to high quality trauma care closer to home,” said Candice Saunders, executive vice president and WellStar Kennestone Hospital administrator. “Exceptional emergency care is already available at four of the five WellStar hospitals; however, the addition of this trauma designation is a further demonstration of our commitment to bringing world-class healthcare to the communities we serve.”
A WellStar Trauma Steering Committee, made up of physicians and administrators, has been in place for nearly two years working on developing a model for trauma care and the implications of trauma designation. As part of the process, WellStar submitted data to the State of Georgia Trauma Registry over
the past 10 months and had a state trauma site inspection from the Department of EMS/Trauma of WellStar Kennestone Hospital on Wednesday, Nov. 2.
“Obtaining this designation was a lot of work by many key individuals,” said Saunders. “Additionally, we had to create several key roles to support the trauma program, including a trauma program manager, a trauma registrar and a medical director for trauma services. As a Level II Trauma Center we also are required to have 24/7 access to certain medical specialists, such as a neurosurgeon, orthopaedics, and oral maxillofacial.”
With the addition of WellStar Kennestone to the Georgia Trauma Care Network, there are now 19 designated Trauma Centers (two of which are pediatric) in the state. Trauma Centers must meet guidelines to become a “designated” trauma center and are ranked at Levels I - IV. A Level I Trauma Center offers 24-hour, seven-day-a-week in-house availability to an attending surgeon and is usually aligned with an academic institution (i.e. medical school) as trauma research is required. A designated Level II Trauma Center has the same standard of care as a Level I, but does not provide training programs for surgery residents or fellows.
“The formalized trauma program will enhance the training of staff in the Emergency Department and improve the coordination of care,” said Barry Renz, M.D., a traumatologist who is serving as medical director for trauma services. ”Additionally, trauma patients who come to the WellStar Kennestone Hospital Trauma Center are more likely to survive as trauma mortality rate is 25 percent lower in trauma centers compared to non-trauma centers."
WellStar Kennestone Hospital, already an accredited chest pain and stroke center, is located at 677 Church Street in Marietta and its emergency department of three trauma rooms and 63 exam rooms is one of the busiest in the state. Last fiscal year, WellStar’s four emergency departments (WellStar Cobb, Douglas, Kennestone and Paulding hospitals) had 306,346 patient visits and served more adult patients than anyone in the state.