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Hospital administrators said this week that Boulder Community Hospital received the higher level trauma center designation from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the American College of Surgeons. It is the first hospital in the county to receive the Level II designation. At the hospital’s main Broadway location, an emergency room doctor is available around the clock, and a surgeon must now be at the hospital within 15 minutes of an emergency patient’s arrival.
“We’ll try to change the destination protocol now that we have the Level II … meaning that would change where ambulances take trauma patients,´ said Holly Pederson, director for emergency and trauma services at Boulder Community Hospital. “We do believe the precedence has been set.”
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Three other hospitals in the county – Avista Adventist Hospital in Louisville, Exempla Good Samaritan Medical Center in Lafayette and Longmont United Hospital in Longmont – have Level III trauma center designations. Level III hospitals must have a surgeon available to operate on emergency room patients within 20 minutes.
In all, people visit the emergency room at Boulder County hospitals about 90,000 times every year, Pederson said. Boulder Community Hospital has about 30,000 emergency room visits each year, she said. So, 300 additional patients to the hospital would not necessarily be a huge change, Pederson said.
“We believe that it will happen in our (protocol area) because it’s the right thing to do, but everybody has to agree to it,” Pederson said.
In general, a hospital that achieves the Level II designation has a wider platform of services for surgeries and other related care, according Margaret Mohan, interim trauma program manager for the health facilities and emergency medical services division of the state department of health.
Boulder Community Hospital has a full-time trauma director, a part-time assistant and a trauma educator in connection with achieving the new designation, Pederson said.
“We’ve invested a lot of time, energy and money on education and training,” Pederson said. “It’s a significantly improved level of care.”
Pederson declined to say how much the hospital spent on achieving the designation.
Boulder Community Hospital partnered with Denver Health Medical Center as part of its quest to gain the new status. Denver Health, formerly named Denver General, is a Level I trauma center-designated hospital.
Northern Colorado has two other Level II trauma centers. Poudre Valley Health System operates Trauma Center of the Rockies, a Level II trauma center at its Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland. Banner Health System’s North Colorado Medical Center in Greeley also holds Level II status.
In addition to Denver Health, three Denver hospitals have a Level I designation – St. Anthony’s Hospital, Swedish Medical Center and Children’s Hospital.