Wheeling Hospital downgraded to a Level IV Trauma Center

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October 31 2021 11:59 pm

WVU Medicine Wheeling Hospital’s trauma program has been downgraded from a Level II trauma center to a Level IV.

The downgrade happened due to Wheeling Hospital’s most recent survey with the American College of Surgeons (ACS)

Wheeling Hospital President and CEO Douglas Harrison outlined a plan to correct any deficiencies moving forward:

  • Effective November 1, 2021, Howard Shackelford M.D. will become the new Medical Director of the Trauma Program. Dr. Shackelford will report directly to Alison Wilson, M.D. who oversees the Level I Trauma and Critical Care Program at J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital with WVU Medicine. Stephanie Isaly, RN will be the Program Director also reporting directly to Dr. Wilson.
  • Wheeling Hospital says they will create a Trauma Service that will be staffed daily, in-house by Board Certified Surgeons from 7:00 am – 7:00 pm. After hours (7:00 pm- 7:00 am) will be staffed through an on-call program with response times to any trauma within 15 minutes.
  • Daily rounding of patients on the Trauma Service will be provided by a physician, Trauma Physician Assistant, and Trauma Nurse to assure proper care and treatment plans are adhered to.
  • Daily consultative service will be provided by the Trauma Team at J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital (WVU Medicine) for any complicated patient and real-time transfer protocols will be implemented should patient need a higher level of care
  • Wheeling Hospital says most of the deficiencies noted in the ACS survey were related to gaps in medical coverage. As a result, Wheeling Hospital says they have implemented several physician recruitment efforts to fill the gaps in care. Wheeling Hospital says they have been successfully recruiting in Urology, Ophthalmology, ENT, and Plastic Surgery.

Wheeling Hospital hopes that their outlined plan will help them become a Level II Trauma Program after ACS conducts an on-site focused review before June 2022.

Wheeling Hospital President and CEO Douglas Harrison released the following statement to 7News after the announcement.

From a trauma perspective, nothing changes; we will still be accepting trauma patients. The survey was conducted in 2019, and all of the gaps and deficiencies identified in it, including those in Ophthalmology; Ear, Nose, and Throat; Urology; and Plastic Surgery, have been filled or will be filled by Nov. 1. We’ve made tremendous strides in the trauma program since then, and we will continue to do so. Dr. Alison Wilson, executive chair of the WVU Critical Care and Trauma Institute, will be running the program. Dr. Wilson sits on the West Virginia State Trauma Board and is a national surveyor with the American College of Surgeons. We will be resurveyed before June 2022

Douglass Harrison, president and CEO, WVU Medicine Wheeling Hospital

7News reached out to Wheeling EMS on how this could affect the Ohio Valley area.

Nothing changes with EMS services at the Wheeling Fire Department. We will continue to answer all emergency calls and continue to transport patients to our local hospitals.

Philip Stahl

Regarding what a Trauma Center Level is, the American Trauma Society explains them as such:

Trauma center levels across the United States are identified in two fashions – A designation process and a verification process. The different levels (ie. Level I, II, III, IV or V) refer to the kinds of resources available in a trauma center and the number of patients admitted yearly

Level I

Level I Trauma Center is a comprehensive regional resource that is a tertiary care facility central to the trauma system. A Level I Trauma Center is capable of providing total care for every aspect of injury – from prevention through rehabilitation.

Elements of Level I Trauma Centers Include: 

  • 24-hour in-house coverage by general surgeons, and prompt availability of care in specialties such as orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, anesthesiology, emergency medicine, radiology, internal medicine, plastic surgery, oral and maxillofacial, pediatric and critical care. 
  • Referral resource for communities in nearby regions.
  • Provides leadership in prevention, public education to surrounding communities.
  • Provides continuing education of the trauma team members.
  • Incorporates a comprehensive quality assessment program.
  • Operates an organized teaching and research effort to help direct new innovations in trauma care.
  • Program for substance abuse screening and patient intervention.
  • Meets minimum requirement for annual volume of severely injured patients.

Level II

A Level II Trauma Center is able to initiate definitive care for all injured patients.

Elements of Level II Trauma Centers Include:

  • 24-hour immediate coverage by general surgeons, as well as coverage by the specialties of orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, anesthesiology, emergency medicine, radiology and critical care. 
  • Tertiary care needs such as cardiac surgery, hemodialysis and microvascular surgery may be referred to a Level I Trauma Center. 
  • Provides trauma prevention and continuing education programs for staff. 
  • Incorporates a comprehensive quality assessment program.

Level III

A Level III Trauma Center has demonstrated an ability to provide prompt assessment, resuscitation, surgery, intensive care and stabilization of injured patients and emergency operations.

Elements of Level III Trauma Centers Include: 

  • 24-hour immediate coverage by emergency medicine physicians and the prompt availability of general surgeons and anesthesiologists. 
  • Incorporates a comprehensive quality assessment program.
  • Has developed transfer agreements for patients requiring more comprehensive care at a Level I or Level II Trauma Center. 
  • Provides back-up care for rural and community hospitals.
  • Offers continued education of the nursing and allied health personnel or the trauma team. 
  • Involved with prevention efforts and must have an active outreach program for its referring communities. 

Level IV

A Level IV Trauma Center has demonstrated an ability to provide advanced trauma life support (ATLS) prior to transfer of patients to a higher-level trauma center.  It provides evaluation, stabilization, and diagnostic capabilities for injured patients.

Elements of Level IV Trauma Centers Include:

  • Basic emergency department facilities to implement ATLS protocols and 24-hour laboratory coverage. Available trauma nurse(s) and physicians available upon patient arrival.
  • May provide surgery and critical-care services if available.  
  • Has developed transfer agreements for patients requiring more comprehensive care at a Level I or Level II Trauma Center. 
  • Incorporates a comprehensive quality assessment program.
  • Involved with prevention efforts and must have an active outreach program for its referring communities. 

Level V

A Level V Trauma Center provides initial evaluation, stabilization, and diagnostic capabilities and prepares patients for transfer to higher levels of care.

Elements of Level V Trauma Centers Include:

  • Basic emergency department facilities to implement ATLS protocols.
  • Available trauma nurse(s) and physicians available upon patient arrival.
  • After-hours activation protocols if facility is not open 24-hours a day.
  • May provide surgery and critical-care services if available.  
  • Has developed transfer agreements for patients requiring more comprehensive care at a Level I through III Trauma Centers.  

According to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Wheeling Hospital was changed to a Level IV Trauma Center on September 10.

You can view the list of the current West Virginia Trauma Centers below.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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