Douglas County Hospital’s (DCH) emergency department provided care to 14,512 patients last year and on Friday, hospital staff was awarded for its excellence in trauma care.

Last Friday, Dr. Art Ney, a trauma surgeon from Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC), presented the “Partner in Trauma Excellence” award to DCH for outstanding care given to trauma patients.

HCMC is a Level I Trauma Center marking the 25th anniversary of its designation by recognizing its statewide trauma care partners, including DCH.

“This community has a lot to be proud of,” Ney said Friday.

Dr. Chad Richardson, director of trauma services at HCMC, said that the comprehensive initial care provided by DCH makes his job as a trauma surgeon much easier.

“When a critically injured patient arrives from the Alexandria area, I always know that every step has been completed to ensure that the patient is ready for more definitive care of his or her injuries. From obtaining vital statistics, to imaging, drawing labs and stabilizing the critical patient, Douglas County Hospital demonstrates world-class care for its patients, and it doesn’t go unnoticed.”

DCH is certified as a Level III Trauma Center. As a Level III Trauma Center, DCH maintains surgical coverage 24 hours a day, seven days a week with surgeons arriving within 30 minutes of call. Additionally, the ability to accept transfers of orthopedic patients is a requirement for the designation.

DCH Board Chairman David Kjos said, “It’s amazing what goes on behind the scenes on a day-to-day basis and how they work together, whether it’s the pilots or people in the trauma center.”

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Trauma is the third leading cause of death in Minnesota and thousands of people have been touched by tragedy and experienced hope and healing because of the teams of first responders, physicians, nurses and other medical professionals who work to save lives.

In 2005 the Minnesota Legislature established a statewide trauma system and charged the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) with implementation.

For a severely injured person, the time between sustaining an injury and receiving definitive care is the most important predictor of survival – the “golden hour,” according to MDH. The chance of survival diminishes with time, despite the availability of resources and modern technology; however, a trauma system enhances the chance of survival regardless of proximity to an urban trauma center.

Best practices standards guide each stage of trauma care to ensure that injured people are promptly transported to and treated at facilities appropriate to the severity of their injury.

In Minnesota, there are four Level I trauma hospitals: Hennepin County Medical Center, Minneapolis; Mayo Clinic Hospital, Rochester; North Memorial Medical Center, Robbinsdale; and Regions Hospital, St. Paul.

HCMC was Minnesota’s first Level I Trauma Center and it operates the largest emergency department in the state.