Trauma plan policy in the draft

Officials working on the San Benito County Trauma Plan could
consider designating Hazel Hawkins Hospital as a Level III Trauma
Center based on the number of patients requiring trauma care.
Officials working on the San Benito County Trauma Plan could consider designating Hazel Hawkins Hospital as a Level III Trauma Center based on the number of patients requiring trauma care.

“The reality is there were 122 critical trauma patients (last year in SBC),” said Diane Akers, a facilitator working to establish a trauma plan for the Central Coast region.

National statistics show there was one critical trauma patient per 1,000 population, and using those figures, SBC would have 55 patients annually.

Of the 122 trauma patients treated last year, 74 were airlifted by CalStar, four were airlifted by Lifeflight, 13 died and the remaining 31 were treated at HHH.

During a meeting last week, Akers said collecting and categorizing the data needed required attention.

“We were double checking and rechecking to avoid counting things twice,” she said.

According to Akers, the county coroner’s office records indicated motorcycle and motor vehicle accidents were the leading cause of trauma in the county, with Hollister Hills state park as one of the reasons the number of patients was high.

“Without a doubt,” she said.

However, Akers said categorizing a trauma case can be difficult.

“What happens is the word trauma means a lot of things to a lot of different folks,” she said. “People describe things like fainting or a cut on a finger as a trauma or a shock. We need to be very careful when talking about a trauma system.”

Akers will complete a draft policy for the November meeting, and committee members hope to receive public comment when the document is ready for review.

Akers said SBC, and even Salinas which does not have a trauma center, is isolated. The closest center is in Santa Clara County.

“You can see there are gaps in this whole Central region,” she said. “There’s a big hole.”

Residents in the southern SBC are closer to Fresno County, but it it can be difficult reaching patients in a rural area.

Santa Cruz County will not be an area designated with a trauma center. However, Monterey County is discussing a plan to include a trauma center.

“They have been talking about it,” Akers said. “You will have nothing south and west of you.”

A chart describing the level of trauma from low, moderate to severe cases shows a very low number of cases that are considered severe.

Overall, percentages for severe cases for all groups is about 5 percent to 10 percent.

“Those are the people we are trying to set a little net out and trying to catch,” Akers said. “That’s our goal because these folks here have a more than a 50 percent chance of dying from their injuries if not attended to appropriately.”

Another clarification was the difference between trauma systems and trauma centers.

A trauma system is an alignment of all agencies from first responders through transporting agencies with both designated and undesignated hospitals.

The number of trauma centers throughout California focus heavily in the southern region in the Los Angeles area and in the northern portion most of them are in the San Francisco area. For the SBC area, San Jose is the closest severe trauma center.

Modesto will have two Level II centers and the University of California, Davis, has a double designation as Level I Adult and Level I Pediatric care units.

“The only one in Northern California,” Akers said.

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