Trauma Centers: How They Impact the Community

By Craig Cook, MD

You’re driving to work one day when suddenly a car runs a red light and hits your vehicle. You are hurt, but you don’t know how badly. Someone calls 911 and the ambulance arrives. Where should they take you? Will any hospital be fine or do you need a trauma center? Does it make a difference?

Trauma Centers play a critical role in keeping communities safe

A designated trauma center is a valuable asset to any community. Each hospital that becomes a trauma center develops consistent processes and procedures that enable the physicians and staff to give the best care to an injured patient. There are five different levels of trauma centers that provide access to different levels of resources.

  • Level 4 & 5 centers can care for an injured patient in the initial phase of treatment, then admit those with straight forward injuries or transfer the more injured to a higher level center as needed. 
  • Level 3 centers can provide initial care and may admit and care for moderately severe injuries if appropriate specialties are available, but will transfer the more severely injured to a Level 1 or 2 center. 
  • Level 2 and 1 centers provide definitive care to critically injured patients from the Emergency Room to the Intensive Care Unit and to Rehabilitation. 
  • Level 1 centers must demonstrate a commitment to trauma research and education that other centers do not.

Utah County has four hospitals that are designated as trauma centers:

  • Level 4 – American Fork Hospital, Mountain View Hospital and Timpanogos Regional Hospital
  • Level 2 – Utah Valley Regional Medical Center

Representatives from each hospital meet quarterly as a group to decide on trauma care for Utah County. Utah County is the only county in the state with that kind of coordination between facilities, although Salt Lake is trying to pull together a similar meeting. We have broken through many barriers by meeting together which has greatly improved our community outcomes from traumatic injuries. 

When you’re hurt, you need to be in the right place at the right time. Trauma centers have been trained to care for you and will quickly get you to the best place to care for your injuries.