Rapides Regional Medical Center may soon become Central Louisiana's first and only Level II Trauma Center – making it one of only three trauma centers in the state.

Once approved as a trauma center, Rapides Regional Medical Center would be the official treatment site for trauma cases involving falls, motor vehicle accidents, gunshots, sports injuries, and spinal cord injuries.

The hospital recently applied for Level II Trauma Center verification from the American College of Surgeons – with official verification expected later this year.

"This has been a very deliberate, well-thought through process," said Dr. Philip Lindsay, surgeon and Trauma Services Medical Director at Rapides Regional Medical Center. "Before we applied for trauma center status, we wanted to make sure we had the people and the processes in place to ensure that our trauma services were equal to or surpassing those services found in other areas. Plus, we had to provide 12 months of data showing a need for a trauma center in this area – and demonstrate that we have the resources available to meet that need."

Those numbers show that Rapides Regional Medical Center already serves as Central Louisiana's "unofficial" trauma center – seeing more than 55,000 ED patients and more than 900 trauma admissions in 2010 alone. Of those trauma admissions, approximately one-third were transferred to Rapides Regional Medical Center from hospitals in 30 parishes.

"When you look at the map, the closest trauma centers in the state are 110 miles north (in Shreveport) and 200 miles to the South (in New Orleans)," said Donna Lemoine, RN, BSN, EMT-Paramedic, director of trauma services. "Level I Trauma Centers are typically found in state-funded hospitals that provide a trauma residency program and research capabilities."

As part of the Level II Trauma Center preparation, Rapides Regional Medical Center already provides:

  • Hospital-wide "Trauma Activation" for Level 1 and Level 2 traumas – including support from radiology, laboratory, surgery, ICU, social services, chaplain and security
  • On-call Trauma surgeon, at patient's bedside on arrival or within 15 minutes
  • Ortho-Trauma coverage, 24 hours a day, seven days a week
  • Neurosurgical coverage, 24 hours a day, seven days a week
  • Anesthesiology coverage, 24 hours a day, seven days a week
  • Surgery consults for ENT, Urology, Oral and Plastic surgeons
  • Dedicated operating room for emergency surgery

The hospital also has in place a trauma services director, two trauma registrars, trauma performance improvement coordinator and a team of Critical Care/Trauma Services surgeons available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"We have a surgical team on call and able to perform general and emergency surgery 24 hours a day, 365 days a year," said Dr. Philip Lindsay, surgeon and Trauma Services Medical Director.

Dr. Lindsay is one of three critical care surgeons who practice at Rapides Regional Medical Center and provide round the clock surgical coverage for trauma services. Lindsay, along with Dr. Jeremy Timmer and Dr. Siddhartha Rath, also provide outpatient and inpatient general surgery services by appointment through their office at Rapides Regional Medical Center.

"We take care of everything from appendix and gallbladders to hernias and diverticulitis," Lindsay said, "and are available 24/7 to evaluate whether or not a trauma patient requires surgery."

For the past year, the trauma surgery and critical care team have worked with rural hospital staff to help them determine when, or if, a transfer to RRMC is necessary – and how to transfer those patients quickly for the best possible outcomes.

"In trauma cases, we often refer to 'The Golden Hour' that's the 60 minutes immediately following a traumatic injury when medical care is most effective," Lemoine said. "The Golden Hour is real. Plus, studies have shown that you are taken to a trauma center after injury, you have a 20-25 percent greater chance of survival."

Rapides Regional Medical Center also acts as a source of information and education in preventing and treating serious injury.

"In other areas, once a hospital has become a designated trauma center, the number of trauma patients has increased," Lemoine said. "We're ready for that. But our goal is to also help prevent those traumatic injuries by offering education in our community on topics such as ATV safety, senior lifestyle and injury prevention and texting while driving. Not only are we providing injury prevention for the community, but we're also providing trauma education to EMS providers, hospital staff and rural hospitals."