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Elkhart General Hospital achieves trauma certification

NOW: Elkhart General Hospital achieves trauma certification

ELKHART, Ind. -- When a person suffers a traumatic injury, the care they receive could be the difference between life and death.

Doctors, surgeons, and nurses at Elkhart General Hospital hope a recent designation save lives.

The American College of Surgeons designated Elkhart General Hospital as a Level III Trauma Center last week.

“Care of the trauma patients, it’s very important,” said Luis Benavente, MD and medical director of Elkhart General’s trauma center. “Trauma is the number one cause of death from ages one to 46 in the United States.”

ACS says Level III Trauma Centers can provide a team of integrated medical experts who can offer prompt and continuous assessment, resuscitation, emergency operations, and stabilization to a trauma patient.

Level III Trauma Centers also arrange patient transfers to a hospital that can provide additional trauma care when needed and provide back-up care for rural and community hospitals.

The hospitals are also involved in prevention efforts and have active outreach programs for its surrounding community.

Benavente says the hospital began working toward the certification in March 2018.

“We decided to do this is because Elkhart has always had a reputation for taking care of trauma patients,” said Benavente. “About 25 percent of the patients that we saw in the ER with trauma type of injuries were brought in by private vehicles, so they knew we could take care of them here, but we were just lacking on some of those guidelines some of that integration that we have now.”

Elkhart General is one of 23 trauma centers in the state.

It’s also one of two in Michiana.

Benavente expects the certification will have a huge impact on people living in the eastern part of Michiana.

Indiana law requires first responders to transfer trauma patients to the closest trauma center within 45 minutes of their location.

If they’re outside that radius, EMS must take them to the closest hospital.

However, Benavente explains the closest hospital may not always be equipped with the staff or resources to handle a traumatic injury which could affect a patient’s outcome.

“These are called accidents for a reason,” said Benavente. “We never anticipate or expect to get involved in any of these problems, but they’re unavoidable and ourselves or our loved ones will need the help of a trauma center at some point so having that available at Elkhart is a big deal for the community.”

Elkhart General’s certification means people living in southeastern Elkhart County, LaGrange County, and Kosciusko County will now be within 45 minutes of a trauma center.

“A lot of the communities that were outside of that 45 minute window that could not make it to Fort Wayne or Memorial are now included within that 45 minute window,” said Benavente. “It gives us that peace of mind, that people have that, knowing there’s a hospital that’s ready to take care of you if you get involved in a car accident or gunshot wound or other type of injury.”

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