Summer is known as trauma season in Utah and the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t slowed down the number of trauma cases. The Trauma team at Utah Valley Hospital experienced that reality when 11 trauma patients came to the hospital within a few short hours on a recent Saturday afternoon. But despite the difficult circumstances, they calmly and efficiently handled every case.
The Utah Valley team treated multiple trauma patients who were injured in a variety of situations including:
- Hay bale
- Horse riding
- Mountain biking
- Gun shot
“It was incredible,” says Craig Cook, MD, trauma director at Utah Valley. “What could have been total chaos because of severity of injury and the number of patients wasn’t because every team member did their part impeccably.”
That “team” includes people from almost every area of the hospital including the Emergency Department, Security, Environmental Services, Social Work, the Intensive Care Unit, operating rooms, Imaging, and many more. Trauma advanced practice provider Steven Bernards, Nursing Supervisor Troy Nelson, ED Charge Nurse Jessica Harmon, RN, and ED Trauma Nurse Skyler Hancock, RN, all played pivotal roles during the busy hours.
Lori Bertelsen, trauma manager at Utah Valley, says trauma volumes went down significantly in the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic because people were staying home. But now that people are getting out more, volumes have increased.
“I attribute a lot of it to people able to get out and exert themselves and be active,”Lori says. “We’re seeing a lot more traumas. Trauma season starts in May and goes through the fall. Last year, we had 138 for June and we hit that again this year.”
Like nearly all hospital departments, COVID-19 has impacted how the Trauma team cares for patients. They must assume all patients are COVID positive until proven otherwise. The team wears all the appropriate PPE and has completely changed its workflow since the pandemic started in order to be as efficient as possible. They also converted one trauma bay to be negative pressure.
“We’ve altered the supplies in the trauma room and developed kits and carts and processes for handing supplies into the room,” says Lori. “We’re also using our Voceras and telemedicine options for doing the recording that has to take place. Everything is more complicated, but we're managing.”