Banner Ironwood seeks Level IV trauma center status

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By Zach Richter Today Publications


Banner Health recently announced plans to create trauma centers with a range of capabilities at its local hospitals and Banner Ironwood Medical Center in San Tan Valley is seeking a Level IV designation. Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center will remain Banner Health’s only Level I hospital.


The Arizona Department of Health Services, Bureau of Emergency Medical Services and Trauma System recently established criteria and standards for designating trauma centers as Level I, II, III or IV, based on a hospital’s resources and capabilities. Today Publications spoke with Banner Ironwood’s Chief Nursing Officer Cathy Townsend and Emergency Department Director Suzanne Gotell about what the designation will mean for the hospital and its patients.


“Everything [required to achieve the designation] is already in place except for one piece of equipment and documentation for the State,” Townsend said. “Then the State has to come and do an onsite inspection to ensure that we meet all the requirements.”

Banner Ironwood Medical Center hopes to have a new trauma center designation by fall of 2012.

Banner Ironwood Medical Center hopes to have a new trauma center designation by fall of 2012.


Rather than a change that requires equipment upgrades or new staff members, Townsend explained that the designation is largely important because it will determine when patients need to be transferred. “It offers peace of mind for the community,” she said. “It ensures that the care given to patients will be seamless.”


“Our Trauma Director is Rob Porter, trauma medical training is already in place,” Townsend continued. “When we opened we made sure that we could serve the community at a higher level that makes this more of a public pronouncement.”


She went on to note that trauma injuries designated as Level IV include blunt trauma fractures and non-bleeding head injuries and that under the new designation Florence Hospital at Anthem would be able to send their Level IV patients to Banner.


“EMS will differentiate [the trauma level] in the field as either Level I or below and the biggest issue is time,” Townsend said. “Level IV does not require immediate surgery within the hour.”


Gotell elaborated on the differences noting that Level I facilities require a significant commitment of resources. “With level one you need a larger capacity, more directors, extra surgery space,” she said, “It requires a huge amount of resources and teams available 24/7. We don’t have the population to justify that commitment right now, but as the population grows it could be a possibility.”


“We’re proud to be a Level IV designation and serve the population with excellent patient care,” Gotel said. “Our transfer process is fantastic and we’re exactly what community needs right now.”


Townsend hopes the designation process will be completed by Nov. during which time patients requiring Level III or IV care will continue north to Mountain Vista Medical Center in Mesa.


“It’s an honor to be in the community,” Townsend said. “We love what we do here at Ironwood and we’ll continue serving the area at the highest level we can.”


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