The designation by the Georgia Department of Public Health was the first for any WellStar hospital and makes WellStar Kennestone the only facility in its primary service area of Bartow, Cherokee, Cobb, Douglas and Paulding Counties to be approved as an official trauma center, Bowermaster said. Before the designation, the closest trauma centers to Cobb were at Atlanta Medical Center and Grady Memorial Hospital in downtown Atlanta, North Fulton Hospital in Roswell and Gwinnett Medical Center in Lawrenceville, said Pat Mayne, WellStar vice president for emergency, surgical and trauma.
“Our mission is to provide world-class health care, and as we looked at the communities we service, one of the voids was high-quality trauma care,” Mayne said. “Most trauma transports are by ground, and the sooner a patient can be treated, their survival rate then becomes much higher. Being close to home is very important because adding 15 minutes, even from the site of the accident, can be critical.”
The designation comes after nearly two years of planning, implementation of a formal model for trauma care and the hiring of key physicians and support staff, Bowermaster said. Mayne said 40 emergency room nurses on staff at WellStar Kennestone have received training specific to trauma care, and WellStar has thus far hired three full-time trauma surgeons and a trauma program manager.
Manager Laura Garlow said Kennestone was open for trauma care as soon as WellStar received its designation.
Mayne said that although Kennestone has already been offering emergency services, patients with life-threatening injuries are sent to hospitals that have surgeons and staff members trained and prepared to care specifically for trauma patients. Mayne said many trauma patients have fallen from a high distance or are the victims of serious car crashes or violence.
“With our trauma center, we will provide a trauma surgeon in-house, 24-hours a day, seven days a week, who is trained to care for patients in these special circumstances,” Mayne said. “Studies show that the same patient going to a nontrauma center is 25 percent more likely to die than one who has been sent to a trauma center because it doesn’t have the same resources.”
Trauma center designations range from level IV to level I, depending on the amount of training the staff has received and the services each center provides. Mayne said a level II center like WellStar Kennestone’s provides the same amount of care and resources as a level I center, with the only exception being that level I centers are typically associated with academic teaching facilities and are required to provide research through the center.
Bowermaster said Kennestone, located at 677 Church St. in Marietta, is already an accredited chest pain and stroke center and that its emergency department of three trauma rooms and 63 exam rooms is one of the busiest in the state. Last fiscal year, WellStar’s four emergency departments at WellStar Cobb, Douglas, Kennestone and Paulding hospitals had 306,346 patient visits and served more adult patients than anyone else in the state, Bowermaster said.