Many people may not know that more than 1,200 patients are treated each month in the emergency department at Tomah Health. While the numbers may be a bit surprising to some, Tomah Health officials say the figures confirm the hospital’s role in providing timely emergency care to the area.
“Unfortunately we have a lot of opportunities for accidents and traumatic injury, so we need to be prepared and as a community hospital we want to be able to take care of those immediate needs of patients who are injured in our community,” said Chief Nursing Officer Tracy Myhre, MSN, RN.
Tomah Health was recently recertified as a Level IV Trauma Care facility by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
Originally certified in 2009 as a Level IV facility, Tomah Health provides stabilization and advanced trauma life support in the event a patient needs to be transferred to a Level I or II Trauma Care facility under the statewide trauma care system. Wisconsin has 124 of 126 potential hospitals participating in its trauma system, with 9-percent certified by the American College of Surgeons (ACS) as Level I or II and the remaining 91-percent certified as a Level III or IV facility.
Tomah Health emergency department director Lori Barto, RN, BSN, says even though the state designation program is voluntary, it plays a significant role in reducing death and disability resulting from traumatic injury by providing optimal care to trauma patients and their families. “We play a huge role,” explained Barto who was the director of emergency services at Divine Savior Healthcare in Portage before eventually coming to Tomah Health earlier this month. “There are a lot of rural hospitals in the state and we are very lucky to have access into those regional facilities.”
Both Barto and Myhre said Tomah Health’s role as a Level IV facility is critical for saving lives, especially when minutes can mean the difference between life and death.
“It should make the public feel confident that if they or their family members need to come to our facility after a traumatic injury that our staff is well prepared and highly trained to care for them,” said Myhre, who directed the emergency department for 13 years before taking the CNO position three years ago.
“It really is a team effort and it usually begins with EMS (emergency medical services),” added Barto. “We partner with EMS when trauma patients are brought into our facility, and it’s not just the emergency department that’s involved, it’s many different departments within the hospital that know how to care for trauma patients.”
Barto said Tomah Health is also unique since many of the emergency department providers are certified in emergency medicine. “Our providers in the emergency department have certifications that are specific to trauma, and that’s huge.”
Barto and Myhre agree that without the statewide trauma care system, access to care would be diverse with much different outcomes in Tomah and throughout Wisconsin. “We are all part of taking care of trauma patients, that’s the most important thing,” said Barto. “Everybody has a role to ensure that we have those good outcomes that we are seeing.”