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Trauma Center Re-accreditation Reinforces LVH-Hazleton’s Commitment to Community Care

In November 2015, Lehigh Valley Hospital (LVH)–Hazleton celebrated its official designation as a Level IV Trauma Center. In August 2016, the Pennsylvania Systems Trauma Foundation (PSTF) re-accredited LVH–Hazleton as a Level IV Trauma Center for the next three years. The story below from the November-December 2015 issue of Healthy You Hazleton explains what this level of trauma care means for people in the Greater Hazleton area.

Consider this scenario: You’re brought to LVH–Hazleton complaining of a headache and abdominal pain following a car accident on I-81. There are no visible signs of injury, yet the mix of circumstances and symptoms could signify major problems such as internal bleeding.

Doctors recognize the potential for serious injury, see you immediately, organize services to your bedside including an ultrasound, find blood in your stomach, identify your need for a higher level of care, put you on a helicopter and transfer you to LVH–Cedar Crest in Salisbury Township – all within 45 minutes.

“That kind of thing happens all the time,” says LVH–Hazleton trauma program coordinator Alexandra Malenka, RN, BSN – especially now that the hospital has been accredited as a Level IV Trauma Center. The designation by the Pennsylvania Trauma Systems Foundation recognizes an organization that establishes statewide trauma care standards and ensures they’re met.

Level IV trauma centers are designed to provide initial care and stabilize patients while doctors and other health care professionals quickly assess the nature of injuries and determine how they should be treated. The center has a direct relationship with the Level I trauma center at LVH–Cedar Crest in Allentown, where advanced resources include coverage by surgeons in a range of specialties. Those services are available in 17 minutes by air and 40 minutes by ground.

Having a local trauma center ensures caregivers in multiple disciplines are available to provide a coordinated, quick response to all manner of traumatic injuries. “LVH–Hazleton was once a small hospital in a small community,” Malenka says. “Now we serve a large population near two major interstate highways, with more injuries due to things like motor vehicle accidents and falls, especially among the elderly. There is definitely a need for trauma care here.”