Happy birthday, Level 2 Trauma Center

  • January 6, 2016

By Jim Hlavacek, MD  |  The Salinas Californian, Opinion Section  |  January 6, 2016

How do you measure success?

As a physician in the community my top story is the amazing success of the Level 2 Trauma Center. To me, this was the story of the year. The quiet success of the Trauma Center is thanks to the planning, leadership, dedication, commitment, cooperation, skill and teamwork of the many people, doctors, nurses, and ancillary staff involved.

I was not surprised to see Natividad receive the Trauma Center designation. I am not surprised at how smoothly this first year has gone. As an anesthesiologist who has been on staff for 17 years, I have witnessed the remarkable sense of mission in my colleagues. I see firsthand the care patients receive in the ER, operating room and ICU.

We are all vulnerable to trauma. If we or one of our loved ones is injured, we want them to receive the best possible care. You get that at Natividad, and then some. This is personal to all of us. We care deeply about the care provided to every injured trauma patient.

The Trauma Center has seen over 1,300 patients in its first year. The majority of trauma patients are involved in motor vehicle accidents, falls, and bicycle/motorcycle accidents. A smaller percentage of patients (less than 10 percent) are the victims of violent acts.

Almost all trauma patients have some form of insurance; the no-pay rate is around 3-5 percent. The trauma center pays for itself; it is not a source of red ink.

New services at Natividad are neurosurgery and interventional radiology. Both of these services require new doctors, nurses, support staff, and equipment. The hospital and the community benefit greatly from these new services both for trauma patients and regular patients.

The emotional and financial impact of keeping injured patients in Monterey County is enormous.

No longer are patients transported out of the county. The families can now stay here with their loved one instead of traveling to trauma centers miles away. Treating patients here means their medical dollars stay in Monterey County. This enables the hospital to hire more staff and expand services to the benefit of all.

At Natividad, we stand ready!

Jim Hlavacek is chief of staff of Natividad Medical Center and president of the Monterey County Medical Society