VACAVILLE — Solano County’s new, one-and-only Level II trauma center is ready to handle patients with severe head and spinal injuries.
The designation of Kaiser Permanente Vacaville Medical Center as a Level II trauma center took effect Thursday. Kaiser Permanente hosted an opening day ceremony attended by dozens of civic leaders to mark the occasion.
Without a local Level II trauma center on Monday, a woman who had severe head injuries was transported by helicopter to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek. She was injured in a car accident on Interstate 80 in Fairfield.
Such an accident from now on would result in the victim being taken to the Vacaville hospital, said Max Villalobos, Kaiser Permanente senior vice president and hospital administrator.
“Now traumatically injured patients can be treated at home,” he said.
Villalobos estimated that about 100 people annually will be taken to the Vacaville hospital for Level II trauma care.
The ceremony attended by civic leaders took place inside a large tent set up outside the emergency room. Winds gusting up to 40 mph shook the tent, sometimes violently, with the metal parts groaning loudly. That prompted jokes that, should the tent collapse and cause injuries, at least a Level II trauma center was nearby.
Kaiser Permanente competed with NorthBay Medical Center in Fairfield to get the Level II trauma designation. A panel of medical experts, while saying both hospitals could qualify as Level II, gave Kaiser the edge. The Solano Emergency Medical Services Cooperative board of directors agreed at its Oct. 10 meeting.
Solano County can have only one such center because of state guidelines restricting Level II centers to one per 350,000 people. Solano County has a population of about 417,000. The county has no Level I center, which must have a research and teaching component, such as the University of California, Davis Medical Center in Sacramento.
County Supervisor Jim Spering was among the speakers at the ceremony. He said the competition between Kaiser Permanente’s Vacaville hospital and NorthBay Medical Center resulted in significant upgrades at both hospitals, with the community being the winner.
Both NorthBay Medical Center and Kaiser Permanente’s Vacaville hospital in 2011 became Level III trauma centers. NorthBay Medical Center will continue treating victims of violence and accidents in southern Solano County, with the exceptions including people with severe head and spinal injuries that get sent to the Vacaville hospital.
Solano County Emergency Medical Services Administrator Ted Selby said the county has a trauma system.
“Our residents will continue to receive that high level of treatment and care, no matter where they live,” Selby said.
State Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, told the gathering that Solano County “has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to health care.”
Chief Nursing Officer Kim Trumbull announced the Kaiser Permanente trauma center is donating three grants of $50,000 each to address violence issues. Recipients are the Children’s Nurturing Project in Fairfield, the Vallejo School District’s Positive Youth Justice Initiative and On the Move in Napa.
Kaiser Permanente Medical Group Administrator Sandy Rusch announced that the emergency rooms at the Kaiser Vacaville and Vallejo hospitals will be designated Emergency Departments Approved for Pediatrics. Solano County Emergency Medical Services makes the designation. That means the emergency rooms meet certain standards for treating children.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.