FROM the very beginning when lobbying began years ago for a new Mills Memorial Hospital, elevating its trauma services has been part and parcel with the need for a new physical structure.
And in the world of national health care standards, what’s wanted for a new Mills is to have it classified as a Level III trauma centre.
“The new hospital would be a trauma centre. One project, one building, with the services necessary for the hospital to be accredited as a trauma centre,” said a key regional health care figure, North West Regional Hospital District chair Harry Nyce last week.
“The closest trauma centre is currently in Prince George resulting in time delays for patients to receive higher level care,” he continued.
“The need was identified many years ago formally in a trauma study completed in 2008.”
The trauma centre designation means a level of services for not only current needs but to handle the growth in population and health care requirements should contemplated large-scale industrial developments take hold.
Based on information provided by the Northern Health Authority, a Level III trauma centre would typically have the following service levels:
– General surgery 24/7 coverage within 20 minutes
– In-house advanced airway intervention to either prevent airway obstructions or to relieve it at all times (an emergency room physician must remain in-house 24/7)
– Orthopedic surgery 24/7 within 30 minutes
– Anesthesia 24/7 coverage within 20 minutes
– Radiology available on call 24/7 with a 30 minute response time
– Intensive care unit with closed ICU model
– Internal medicine coverage 24/7
– Dedicated chief emergency department physician
– Emergency department physician in-house 24/7
– Trauma team activation process for all major trauma patients
– Blood bank available on site 24/7
– Immediate plain film radiology in-house 24/7
– Ultrasonography 24/7 coverage within 30 minutes
– Immediate CT 24/7 coverage within 30 minutes OR nursing staff call back within 30 minutes for immediate surgery
– Medical director for ICU
– Dedicated allied health professionals (i.e. respiratory therapists, pharmacists, occupational and physical therapy, dietary, social worker)
Mills Memorial now has portions of the above services but significant additions would be needed to fit these Level III requirements.
At the moment, the University Hospital of Northern B.C. in Prince George is the only hospital to have a Level III designation.
Rigorous evaluations, including site visits, to meet standards are handled through a national organization called Accreditation Canada.
For his part, provincial finance minister Mike de Jong, in Terrace Feb. 28 to announce that a new Mills would be built, spoke of one service at Mills that’s no longer in place.
“I may go out on a limb here, but we want to have a [helicopter] landing pad that works,” he said.
The helipad at Mills was taken out of service in late 2010 when the Northern Health Authority cited the expense, then at $150,000, of bringing it up to date. Helicopter-borne patients are now flown to the airport where a waiting ambulance then transfers them to Mills.