FAIRFIELD — A sealed envelope contains information showing whether NorthBay Medical Center in Fairfield or Kaiser Permanante’s Vacaville hospital has the inside track to become Solano County’s only level II trauma center.
The American College of Surgeons has overseen an evaluation done by a review panel of experts. These experts have visited the two hospitals and rated them in various categories.
“We have the evaluations,” Nels Sanddal of the American College of Surgeons told the county Board of Supervisors on Sept. 10. “Two of us know the results. I’m one and in case my plane goes down, there’s one other person at the ACS who knows what the scores are.”
Everyone else, including county officials, will have to wait until Oct. 10. That’s when the Solano County Emergency Medical Services board of directors will learn the review panel’s recommendation and decide whether Kaiser or NorthBay will get the level II trauma center designation.
The Emergency Medical Services Board meets that day at 9 a.m. in the Suisun City Council Chamber, 701 Civic Center Drive.
Both Kaiser Permanente’s Vacaville hospital and NorthBay Medical Center in 2011 became level III trauma centers. That allows them to treat many of the victims of violence and accidents who previously were flown by helicopter to other counties.
The level II center will be able to treat head and spinal injuries. That in turn will eliminate most of the remaining helicopter trips to John Muir Medical Center in Contra Costa County and the University of California, Davis Medical Center in Sacramento County.
“It results in potentially saving lives, because you don’t have that travel time to get to Walnut Creek or Sacramento,” county Emergency Medical Services Administrator Ted Selby said Thursday. “It also results in improved medical outcomes.”
Time is critical when dealing with these types of serious injuries, Selby said. Patients would still be brought to John Muir Medical Center or the UC Davis Medical Center if they are hurt in a part of the county where such a trip could be made faster than going to the Solano County level II center, he said.
“The well-being of the patient is still our highest priority,” Selby said.
Solano County can have only one level II trauma center. It has a population of 413,000. The state allows only one center per 350,000 people in a county.
That threshold exists because the number of neurological cases that occur has to be enough that the surgeons providing the care can maintain their skills, county Health Officer Bela Matyas said.
Sanddal said he envisions that Oct. 10 meeting will have the scores of each hospital in the various evaluation areas shown on a screen, though without the name of the hospital. Finally, the hospital names will be revealed and everyone will know the recommendation.
Then the Emergency Medical Services board must make a decision. It can accept the recommendation, designate the other hospital as the level II center or do nothing.
The Solano County Board of Supervisors has no role in choosing the level II center, though supervisors at their Sept. 10 meeting indicated they want to keep track of the situation.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.