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Our Trauma System

Aug 31, 2018, 09:35 AM
From ambulance to aircraft, patient move quickly to receive lifesaving care
45_ED Team-100

A motor vehicle accident. A fall from a ladder. Gun violence. All of these scenarios and countless more can launch the health care system, including Skagit Valley Hospital and Cascade Valley Hospital, into full trauma mode.

Washington state is a leader in the nation for having a highly developed trauma care system. That means patients – no matter if they are in Arlington or Burlington – will take a journey through a trauma system that will quickly get them to the right level of care to meet their needs.

“No matter what hospital you go to, we’re all doing the same things. We share protocols and best practices,” said Jessica Bell, MSN, RN, Director of Emergency Services at Skagit Valley Hospital in Mount Vernon. “We will get you to the right level of care whether you stay here for surgery and are admitted or we put you on a helicopter to go to Harborview or another healthcare facility. We approach every patient with a consistent, solid level of expertise, which has made a real difference in our community.”

Skagit Regional Health has mass casualty and disaster plans in place to ramp up services, as needed, very quickly. Making quick decisions and moving patients to the right level of care are keys to the success of the trauma system.

Eileen Bulger, MD, Chief of Trauma for Harborview Medical Center and a Professor of Surgery at the University of Washington, said the trauma system works as a hub and spokes providing access to all patients from urban centers to rural, remote areas. Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and hospitals such as Skagit Valley and Cascade Valley play key roles in that framework as Harborview receives 6,000 trauma patients each year.

“The community hospitals are absolutely critical for that initial stabilization of the patient,” Dr. Bulger said. “If we don’t have the strength of our community hospitals, our patients around the state won’t get the care they need.”

Dr. Bulger said that the trauma team at Skagit Valley Hospital is particularly skilled at using the trauma system, with early alerts to Airlift Northwest, one of the region’s leading medical air transport providers, for flights to Harborview.

“Skagit has some of the shortest transfer times in the state,” Dr. Bulger said. “That is really a model for the region.”

Chris Martin, Executive Director of Airlift Northwest, agreed that the role hospital teams play in the trauma system is critical to positive outcomes by stabilizing patients and preparing them for the rapid airborne transport to Harborview, Seattle Children’s and other destinations.

“We save lives every day, that is just our job,” said Martin, noting Airlift Northwest makes 3,500 flights per year in the Northwest and Alaska. “We’re about peace of mind. We can get to definitive care faster. We’re the quick lifeline.”

These helicopters are flying intensive care units staffed by two critical care trained nurses with five or more years of experience on board each flight. The helicopters are based in Bellingham, Arlington, Seattle, Olympia and Yakima. The fleet has several fixed-wing aircraft as well, based in Seattle and Yakima.

Cascade Valley Hospital has a helistop and sidewalk providing smooth access from an incoming helicopter to the Emergency Department across the street. The helipad at Skagit Valley Hospital is on the facility’s roof, with elevator access.

As highway traffic in western Washington gets more congested and travel times by land are unpredictable, Martin said she anticipates Airlift Northwest’s volume will go up in the years to come.

“Patients really are getting to definitive care much more quickly going by air,” she said.

It all starts in the field with highly skilled EMS personnel, said Matthew Russell, MD, a Skagit Valley Hospital Emergency Department physician and Medical Director for the Skagit County EMS system.

“The majority of our trauma patients come in via EMS – they are the entry point for our trauma system,” Dr. Russell said. “They can activate the trauma process from the scene. They can make the call and we can get our resources ready and assemble our team so we’re ready for the patient.”

Personnel at the scene of an accident feed critical information, such as patient vital signs and details of the situation, to the Emergency Department staff by radio as they are transporting the patient. Paramedics aboard ACLS rigs can perform assessments, begin treatment, pain management and supportive care.

Dr. Russell, a former paramedic, knows the challenges of working in the field. “They are on the scene and it’s complicated by the environment and resource limitations, yet they are able to accomplish much of what we do here in the Emergency Department,” Dr. Russell said.

Once the patient arrives at the Emergency Department, it’s the dedicated staff who respond each time who make the difference, said Tyler Dalton, Trauma Coordinator at Skagit Regional Health.

“This is a continuum of patient care. It begins in the field and goes all the way to Harborview,” Dalton said.

Part of Dalton’s role is to review charts for trauma cases, attend meetings at the local, regional and state levels and make sure that resources are available and education for staff is current.

“We are always looking to see what the outcomes are and what we can do better,” Dalton said.

Training and practice – from the EMS in the field to the top specialists in the city – are key to the trauma system.

“Everybody knows their role,” Bell said. “It’s a well-coordinated effort.”

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Our Trauma System

Aug 31, 2018, 09:35 AM
From ambulance to aircraft, patient move quickly to receive lifesaving care
45_ED Team-100

A motor vehicle accident. A fall from a ladder. Gun violence. All of these scenarios and countless more can launch the health care system, including Skagit Valley Hospital and Cascade Valley Hospital, into full trauma mode.

Washington state is a leader in the nation for having a highly developed trauma care system. That means patients – no matter if they are in Arlington or Burlington – will take a journey through a trauma system that will quickly get them to the right level of care to meet their needs.

“No matter what hospital you go to, we’re all doing the same things. We share protocols and best practices,” said Jessica Bell, MSN, RN, Director of Emergency Services at Skagit Valley Hospital in Mount Vernon. “We will get you to the right level of care whether you stay here for surgery and are admitted or we put you on a helicopter to go to Harborview or another healthcare facility. We approach every patient with a consistent, solid level of expertise, which has made a real difference in our community.”

Skagit Regional Health has mass casualty and disaster plans in place to ramp up services, as needed, very quickly. Making quick decisions and moving patients to the right level of care are keys to the success of the trauma system.

Eileen Bulger, MD, Chief of Trauma for Harborview Medical Center and a Professor of Surgery at the University of Washington, said the trauma system works as a hub and spokes providing access to all patients from urban centers to rural, remote areas. Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and hospitals such as Skagit Valley and Cascade Valley play key roles in that framework as Harborview receives 6,000 trauma patients each year.

“The community hospitals are absolutely critical for that initial stabilization of the patient,” Dr. Bulger said. “If we don’t have the strength of our community hospitals, our patients around the state won’t get the care they need.”

Dr. Bulger said that the trauma team at Skagit Valley Hospital is particularly skilled at using the trauma system, with early alerts to Airlift Northwest, one of the region’s leading medical air transport providers, for flights to Harborview.

“Skagit has some of the shortest transfer times in the state,” Dr. Bulger said. “That is really a model for the region.”

Chris Martin, Executive Director of Airlift Northwest, agreed that the role hospital teams play in the trauma system is critical to positive outcomes by stabilizing patients and preparing them for the rapid airborne transport to Harborview, Seattle Children’s and other destinations.

“We save lives every day, that is just our job,” said Martin, noting Airlift Northwest makes 3,500 flights per year in the Northwest and Alaska. “We’re about peace of mind. We can get to definitive care faster. We’re the quick lifeline.”

These helicopters are flying intensive care units staffed by two critical care trained nurses with five or more years of experience on board each flight. The helicopters are based in Bellingham, Arlington, Seattle, Olympia and Yakima. The fleet has several fixed-wing aircraft as well, based in Seattle and Yakima.

Cascade Valley Hospital has a helistop and sidewalk providing smooth access from an incoming helicopter to the Emergency Department across the street. The helipad at Skagit Valley Hospital is on the facility’s roof, with elevator access.

As highway traffic in western Washington gets more congested and travel times by land are unpredictable, Martin said she anticipates Airlift Northwest’s volume will go up in the years to come.

“Patients really are getting to definitive care much more quickly going by air,” she said.

It all starts in the field with highly skilled EMS personnel, said Matthew Russell, MD, a Skagit Valley Hospital Emergency Department physician and Medical Director for the Skagit County EMS system.

“The majority of our trauma patients come in via EMS – they are the entry point for our trauma system,” Dr. Russell said. “They can activate the trauma process from the scene. They can make the call and we can get our resources ready and assemble our team so we’re ready for the patient.”

Personnel at the scene of an accident feed critical information, such as patient vital signs and details of the situation, to the Emergency Department staff by radio as they are transporting the patient. Paramedics aboard ACLS rigs can perform assessments, begin treatment, pain management and supportive care.

Dr. Russell, a former paramedic, knows the challenges of working in the field. “They are on the scene and it’s complicated by the environment and resource limitations, yet they are able to accomplish much of what we do here in the Emergency Department,” Dr. Russell said.

Once the patient arrives at the Emergency Department, it’s the dedicated staff who respond each time who make the difference, said Tyler Dalton, Trauma Coordinator at Skagit Regional Health.

“This is a continuum of patient care. It begins in the field and goes all the way to Harborview,” Dalton said.

Part of Dalton’s role is to review charts for trauma cases, attend meetings at the local, regional and state levels and make sure that resources are available and education for staff is current.

“We are always looking to see what the outcomes are and what we can do better,” Dalton said.

Training and practice – from the EMS in the field to the top specialists in the city – are key to the trauma system.

“Everybody knows their role,” Bell said. “It’s a well-coordinated effort.”