Riverside Regional Medical Center’s Board of Directors re-enforced their commitment to care of the community’s most seriously injured citizens today when they announced that Riverside will maintain their Level II trauma designation. 
Jerry W. AllenJerry Allen, Chairman of the Riverside Regional Board of Directors, noted, “Riverside takes great pride in the care we provide to seriously ill individuals regardless of whether they come to us because of our neurosurgical team, our heart specialists, our cancer experts, our emergency department, or because of Riverside’s trauma program staffed by our trauma and general surgeons.  However, it is always humbling to see and hear that the community clearly chooses us, and trusts us, in all types of life-threatening situations.  This Board will support our physician and management teams as they continue to redesign and improve our services, including trauma.  Some changes may be made - but the service will continue.”  Allen noted retention of the designation was also the unanimous recommendation of the physicians on the hospital’s Medical Executive Committee.

Evaluation and redesign of Riverside’s trauma designation began earlier this year when economic pressures impacted the healthcare industry.  Elimination of Riverside Regional’s Emergency Department, an area that experiences over 56,000 visits each year, was never a consideration.  The Emergency Department continues its trendsetting work in specialty designations such as Cardiac and Stroke care.  

However, the additional cost of retaining a state-defined trauma designation did come under evaluation.  To achieve the Level II status, Riverside provides a Medical Director of Trauma, two general surgeons on-call at all times, and at least two other individuals dedicated to the requirements of the designation. These additional expenses became part of the care of approximately 1,000 “trauma” cases at Riverside during 2008.  State funds are provided to assist with these incremental costs, but the total state funding of $250,000 - $300,000 per year covers less than 10% of the expense of the trauma program.    

“People are surprised to learn that the state’s contribution to trauma care is dependent on how many of the cases that come to a designated center are motor vehicle accidents, categorized as ‘blunt trauma’.  The other category is ‘penetrating trauma’ such as gunshots or stabbings,” explained Pat Parcells, MD, Riverside’s Senior Vice President/Administrator.  “Since state funds  for trauma come through the Department of Motor Vehicles from speeding tickets, DUI and other traffic fees, a trauma center is reimbursed based on how much of its activity is blunt trauma.  At Riverside 17% of our cases are penetrating trauma, therefore, less state funding is available to defray our costs.”  

Riverside’s services have included a Level II Trauma Service since 1983.  “The decision to retain the trauma program and a Level II designation is easy because this is simply the right thing to do for the community,” concluded Mr. Allen.  “The hard part is what the physicians and other caregivers do to make the service available, and what the administrative team must do to cover the non-reimbursed expenses.  We remain committed to providing this critical service to the entire Peninsula community.”