A three-year race to ramp up trauma care in Solano County is reaching an end of sorts with the designation this week of Kaiser Permanente Vacaville Medical Center as the county’s only level II trauma center.
Kaiser edged out NorthBay Healthcare, which sought the designation at its Fairfield trauma center.
The race began in September 2010 when NorthBay Healthcare announced that it wanted to establish a level III trauma center at NorthBay Medical Center. Kaiser Permanente followed suit in January 2011. NorthBay got its designation in September 2011, Kaiser a month later.
Then began the race for a level II designation, for which there can be only one in Solano County based on our population and the need to ensure that highly skilled neurosurgeons have enough patients each year to maintain their skills.
The two health care organizations took different approaches to their bids for the county’s level II trauma center. NorthBay Healthcare – the local guy, as it were – focused on what it’s doing and would do if awarded the designation, and relied on the process to carry the day. Kaiser Permanente – the health care gorilla in the room … they are one massive organization! – took a more regional approach, pitching all it has to offer to Solano County trauma patients.
Then Kaiser upped the ante.
I wrote here in early June about Kaiser Permanente’s community campaign, which it kicked into high gear with a series of dinners for various community leaders to meet with Kaiser doctors, administrators and staff to talk about all things trauma.
My takeaway then – and today – is that residents of Solano County, and those who travel through the county on our highways, are the big winners here, not the health care organizations.
I moved to Fairfield in September 2009 to take this job at the Daily Republic. My wife Jill moved here in February 2010 after we sold our home in Visalia. At that time, serious trauma patients here in Fairfield – and across the county – were routinely flown to trauma centers in Walnut Creek or Sacramento.
That’s a hike by car and, although it’s much faster by helicopter, it’s still precious time lost to travel that could have been better used on medical care beyond that available during transport.
Now, thanks to the efforts of NorthBay Healthcare and Kaiser Permanente, we have level III trauma centers in both Fairfield and Vacaville, and will soon have a level II trauma center in Vacaville.
Kaiser Permanente members who live in Vacaville and Dixon, to be sure, are double winners since Kaiser will add labor and delivery services to its Vacaville Medical Center as part of its level II trauma center. Kaiser will maintain those services at its Vallejo hospital, but soon women who have Kaiser insurance in Vacaville and Dixon can give birth to their children a bit closer to home.
Once again, if it’s a traumatic birth, those minutes – and geographic convenience – count. Just ask the women served by doctors and nurses at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at NorthBay Medical Center in Fairfield.
From a practical standpoint, Kaiser Permanente will see somewhere between 70 to 100 additional trauma patients a year at its Vacaville hospital, depending on who you ask. Those patients likely would have gone to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek.
In a county of some 415,000 residents, a county that sees literally millions of cars and trucks pass by on local highways each year, 100 or so severely injured trauma patients isn’t that much. But to those patients – and to their families – quick access to level II trauma care is priceless.
So the trauma race ends in Solano County, and we’re all the winners.
Reach Managing Editor Glen Faison at 427-6925 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GlenFaison.