FAIRFIELD — NorthBay Medical Center earned verification as a Level II trauma center by the American College of Surgeons – the first hospital in Solano County to do so, reaching the “gold standard” that has been the Fairfield hospital’s goal, NorthBay said Thursday.
NorthBay notes that Solano County chose Kaiser Permanente in October as its designated Level II trauma center, but NorthBay leaders said that didn’t deter the Fairfield medical center from developing a range of advance surgical procedures available 24 hours a day and earning the verification.
Steve Huddleston, spokesman for NorthBay, said of its verification that “two Level II trauma centers (in the county) are better than one.”
Such centers are prepared for most trauma situations except for burn victims and major injuries to infants and children, a NorthBay press release said.
Corwin Harper, senior vice-president of Kaiser Permanente in the Napa and Solano area, said Friday that Kaiser’s hospital in Vacaville “is the official and only Level II Trauma Center designated by Solano County.”
“This is based upon the American College of Surgeons’ evaluation and the county’s official review of Kaiser Permanente’s demonstrated excellence, expert specialists and equipment in this specialized area of medicine,” Harper added. “Nothing about this designation has or will change as a result of NorthBay’s announcement.”
Jessica Tello-Evans, administrator of the Solano Emergency Medical Services Cooperative that designated Kaiser Permanente as the Level II Trauma Center, said Kaiser has until July 2015 to earn verification.
“I expect them to meet that deadline,” she said.
NorthBay’s verification won’t change Kaiser’s status as the trauma center for Solano County, Tello-Evans said. Kaiser earning verification is simply an issue of timing, she added.
NorthBay spokesman Huddleston said four levels of trauma center status exist, with the least sophisticated, often rural hospitals offering emergency care, designated as level IV. Level I requirements include affiliation with a university for medical research, the NorthBay spokesman said.
“We don’t have plans to put that into motion immediately,” he said of the top level attained by the University of California, Davis Medical Center and others.
Huddleston said the staff was informed Thursday morning in an email blast about the American College of Surgeons decision verifying NorthBay.
The Fairfield medical center’s news release notes some, but not all, patients with head and spinal injuries are transported by ambulance to Kaiser in Vacaville because of the county designation, even though NorthBay’s Fairfield hospital is closer.
A stable patient with a head injury is taken to Vacaville, Huddleston said.
Asked about the extra 10-mile trip from Fairfield to Vacaville, he answered, “you’d have to ask the county to explain why that was the path chosen.”
Tello-Evans said a stable patient should be able to make the trip by ambulance.
NorthBay will continued to receive Level II patients needing immediate treatment. Such a patient who arrives in a private vehicle or walks into the emergency department will receive immediate care, NorthBay said.
The Fairfield hospital handles more than 60 percent of all local trauma cases, the NorthBay news release said.
Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or [email protected]