Los Fresnos News

Valley Baptist Medical Center-Harlingen Re-verified as Cameron County’s Only Level II Trauma Center

HARLINGEN — Continuing its commitment to providing high-quality, emergency care to communities throughout the Rio Grande Valley for nearly 100 years, Valley Baptist Medical Center-Harlingen is proud to announce that it has been re-verified as Cameron County’s only Level II Trauma Center by the American College of Surgeons.

Valley Baptist-Harlingen was originally designated a Level II Trauma Center in February 2018, and was the first hospital in the Valley to receive the designation and was the first hospital in the area to advance to the highest level of trauma care. Ever since, Valley Baptist-Harlingen’s Trauma Center has been saving the lives of patients with traumatic injuries by providing rapid, life-saving trauma care close to home, said Dr. Daniel Bolton, a trauma surgeon and medical director of Valley Baptist-Harlingen’s trauma program.

“Having a dedicated trauma center is vitally important to any community, small or large. Because we are part of a growing region, it is critically important that our hospital continue to advance trauma care in the area so that we can stabilize, treat, and care for our community right here at home,” he said. “The location and proximity of a trauma center can be the difference between life and death for a patient, and the fact that we have one of the highest levels of trauma care here in Harlingen is extremely beneficial to our community. The goal with trauma care is to get people seen and assessed as rapidly as possible. There is something that we call the golden hour, which is especially important in critical care. That can be the defining point to whether someone is going to survive or not survive.”

According to the American College of Surgeons, a facility with a Level II trauma designation can initiate ultimate care for all injured patients, offer 24-hour immediate coverage by general surgeons, provide coverage in the specialties of orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, anesthesiology, emergency medicine, radiology, and critical care, in addition to providing trauma prevention and continuing education programs for staff, as well as incorporating a comprehensive quality assessment program.

“This achievement recognizes the trauma center’s dedication to providing optimal care for injured patients,” according to a press release from the Committee on Trauma of the American College of Surgeons.

While there are Level I trauma centers operating in Hidalgo County, Bolton said that such level designations can be confusing for a public trying to understand what such designations mean when it comes to the trauma care they need.

“The difference between a Level I and Level II trauma center, according to the American College of Surgeons, is not in the level of trauma care that is provided clinically, but is related to the level of clinical research and the level of general surgery residents on the hospital’s campus. What this means to the community is that a Level I Trauma Center and a Level II Trauma Center are both capable of handling the same type of trauma care clinically and are both accountable for providing the same level of quality care,” he said. “

At Valley Baptist, we are fully-staffed to deal with whatever trauma care needs our community may have. We have everything from full-time, 24-7 critical care trauma surgeons who are in-house at all times attending to all trauma patients from entry to the Emergency Department all the way through to discharge. We also have a variety of surgical specialists on call around the clock, including orthopedic trauma surgeons, neurosurgeons, oral maxillofacial surgeons, plastic surgeons, and more.”

Bolton said that partnerships with other entities throughout the region are vital to providing high-quality trauma care to the community.

“Valley Baptist–Harlingen is proud of our partnership with The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) School of Medicine, who provides the full-time physician coverage of Valley Baptist’s trauma surgeons,” he said. “Over the past six months, UTRGV has onboarded three additional board certified critical care trauma surgeons, who each have incredible clinical backgrounds, to enhance the growth of our trauma program. The level of care these additional surgeons are providing within the hospital’s Level II Trauma Center is extraordinary and we are proud to have them serving our community in this capacity.”

Educating local residents on how to prevent emergencies in the first place is also a critical component to operating a Level II trauma facility. Those educational efforts also include supporting other hospitals throughout the region in a wide variety of initiatives from fall and injury prevention to gun safety, to how to stop blood loss during severe accidents, Bolton said.

“I think the part that we are really trying to do at Valley Baptist is help provide safety mechanisms for organizations who are trying to teach our community how to avoid trauma in the first place,” he said. “This is a vital part of our role, and we’re working hand-in-hand with the local government and educators to identify and assist at risk groups, trying to avoid these injuries before they happen.”

Like many other areas of healthcare, providing exceptional trauma care is a team-oriented approach. The team at Valley Baptist-Harlingen, Bolton said, is well prepared to handle all our community’s needs and is proud to serve at this high level of trauma care and capabilities.

“The strength of Valley Baptist is our people. The nursing staff, the support staff, the physicians and surgeons – everyone from the cleaning staff to the security staff, we are all engaged and involved,” he said. “We bring excellence to this program because we want to do what’s right for this community.”