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Trauma Care

If you or your loved one is injured in a traumatic accident, your emergency team may ask you to choose your hospital. Lehigh Valley Health Network is your wisest choice. In a trauma situation, every second counts, and every decision matters. That’s why the Fleming Trauma System and Mattioli Trauma Center at Lehigh Valley Hospital–Cedar Crest, Pennsylvania’s first and the largest trauma center in the region, is passionate about providing the highest level of treatment in the most expert and efficient manner for all ages and traumatic injuries.

We offer the highest level of trauma care for children in the region, and we collaborate with referring hospitals and emergency medical services providers to ensure smooth transfer of pediatric trauma patients. Our highly experienced, multidisciplinary pediatric trauma team consists of trauma surgeons, pediatric intensivists, pediatric hospitalists, pediatric surgeons, surgical subspecialists, nurses and ancillary personnel.

Our approach requires the commitment and knowledge of an experienced team of trauma professionals, doing everything possible to achieve the best outcomes for our patients. We see more patients and help more people in the Lehigh Valley get well and return back home.

The first few hours

If there has been a traumatic accident, a patient often is transported directly to our trauma center. There, the trauma team evaluates how serious a patient’s injuries are and makes decisions about what kind of care is needed. Depending on the patient’s condition, he may need care in the operating room or in a part of the hospital designed for trauma patients, such as the trauma-neuro intensive care unit or transitional trauma unit.

When you arrive at the hospital, a chaplain from pastoral care will meet you. He and a member of our trauma team will provide you information about your loved one until a physician is able to speak with you personally. Chaplains provide emotional and spiritual support anytime, day or night, while your loved one is in the hospital. All care is provided to meet your family’s cultural, religious and social needs.

These first hours are very important for your loved one. You may be asked to share vital medical and background information to assist our trauma team in providing the best possible care. You also may choose to designate one person in your family to be the family spokesperson. This may be a spouse, parent or legal next-of-kin. We will give updated health care information to the spokesperson and refer other family members or friends to him or her.

Please ask us questions. Our trauma team is here to help you and your loved one. Team members will do their best to answer all of your questions.

Your privacy is protected. To ensure privacy for you and your loved one, we follow a medical privacy act called HIPAA.

We look out for you. You are a valuable member of your loved one’s health care team. The support you provide is an important part of the healing process and is appreciated by your loved one and his or her caregivers. To provide the best support, you need to take care of yourself too. Shorter visits, adequate rest and proper nutrition are just as important for you as your loved one.

The road to recovery

Your loved one’s road to recovery and length of time it will take is unpredictable, because each person recovers from trauma differently. The steps below show a “typical” road to recovery, but recovery times and steps may change depending on your loved one’s condition.

Trauma-neuro intensive care unit (TNICU)

This is where your loved one may first receive intensive care. The trauma team will monitor him at all times. You may feel overwhelmed by the amount of care, equipment and procedures your loved one will experience, but it is necessary to provide the best trauma care. We encourage you to be an active member of the team by providing emotional support to your loved one – talking to him and holding his hand.

Visiting TNICU

When you arrive on the unit, you will check in with a critical care ambassador. She will provide you information to assist you during your loved one’s stay. She also will check to make sure your loved one is ready to receive visitors. Because the level of TNICU care is so intensive, there are special visiting guidelines.

  • Scheduled family visiting hours are 11 a.m.-2 p.m., 3-6:30 p.m. and 8:30-9:30 p.m.
  • Talk to your care team about special visiting hours or needs, and the best way to arrange visits from children under 12 and close friends.
  • Do not bring food or beverages into your loved one’s room.
  • Please do not send flowers while your loved one is in TNICU.

You may notice cameras in your loved one’s hospital room. They are linked to an off-site location where we maintain an advanced intensive care unit (aICU). It is staffed by specially educated critical care physicians and nurses who provide an extra layer of care in addition to bedside care during overnight hours. Your loved one’s blood pressure, heart rate and other vital signs are monitored continuously so our trauma nurses and physicians are alerted immediately of any changes in your loved one’s health.

Transitional trauma unit (TTU)

When your loved one’s condition improves, he may move to this unit. The trauma team will evaluate your loved one’s progress thoroughly before making this transfer. This is most often considered a positive step in a patient’s recovery.

Your loved one’s health condition will continue to be monitored regularly on TTU. But because the level of care is less intensive than on TNICU, you may see your nurse less often. If you have any questions, you always can communicate with your nurse by ringing the call bell.

In certain situations, your loved one might be well enough to leave TNICU but not quite strong enough for regular TTU care. If that happens, your loved one will receive care in a 24-hour “observation room” located on TTU. This way, he can continue to receive 24-hour monitoring for his care.

On TTU, your loved one will be able to participate in his own care as he begins recovering. You can help by providing encouragement and working with him while he walks, eats or exercises. Case managers will work with you to plan the next stage of recovery.

Leaving the hospital

When your loved one no longer needs care in the hospital, the case manager and the trauma team will recommend a plan best suited for him. When your loved one returns home, he may be seen in the trauma care office for follow-up care and may be referred back to the care of his family physician.

Traumatic injuries in older adults

Whether you suffer a nasty fall or experience another type of traumatic accident, your age can impact your ability to recover. At Lehigh Valley Health Network, we understand this. We are have a unique geriatric trauma program that delivers leading-edge care for older adults by using a back-to-the-basics team approach.

Using the Geriatric Interdisciplinary Team Training model from the American Geriatrics Society John A. Hartford Foundation, a team of experts meets weekly to discuss each patient’s care and the unique needs of geriatric patients. They evaluate chronic conditions you may have and how they could affect your care.

The team can include a physician with education in the health concerns of older people, a trauma surgeon, trauma team physician assistants, pharmacist, case manager and physical/occupational therapist. Nutrition services and pastoral care also are called in as needed. This is in addition to routine consultation with the patient’s primary care physician or geriatrician. We use this approach, which is unique to trauma centers nationwide, to ensure the best possible care for you or your loved one.

Before a traumatic injury occurs, it’s important to think about where you or your loved one want to receive care. Know that U.S. News & World Report has recognized Lehigh Valley Hospital and Lehigh Valley Hospital--Muhlenberg as "high-performing" in geriatrics. Educate yourself, make your choice now and let your loved ones know.

Prevention education

We are also a community leader in injury prevention, dedicating resources to child passenger safety including car seat inspections, helmet safety, traffic safety, school-based presentations and programs, parent and professional education, and health and community fairs.

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This is a non-profit organization. Please consider donating to help heal, comfort and care.

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