Lehigh Valley Hospital–Hazleton's Level IV Trauma Center
Provides the care you need faster
Whether it’s a high-speed motor vehicle accident or a broken ankle that brings you to the emergency department, Lehigh Valley Hospital (LVH)–Hazleton’s Level IV Trauma Center offers the continuum of care for patients with potential serious injuries.
The center is a Pennsylvania Trauma Systems Foundation® (PTSF®) accredited Level IV Trauma Center. As such, LVH–Hazleton has resources at the ready to provide optimal care and reduce the likelihood of death or disability to injured patients. In August 2016, the PTSF reaccredited LVH–Hazleton as a Level IV Trauma Center for the next three years. It is the only trauma center in lower Luzerne County.
Alexandra Malenka, RN
The Level IV designation was four years in the making and required substantial training throughout the hospital, along with new personnel dedicated to trauma care and stringent quality-of-care reviews. “Achieving this recognition means people in our region can be assured we’re working for the best outcomes for patients right here in Hazleton, and we have immediate access to higher-level care,” says Gary Bonfante, DO, Medical Director, Emergency Medicine, Lehigh Valley Hospital–Hazleton.
Training, preparing, appraising
Training encompasses all levels of staff: All emergency room (ER) providers take Advanced Trauma Life Support® courses, which ensures the proper evaluation of a trauma patient. Nurses take the Trauma Nurse Course, a three-day training focused strictly on trauma. And each year, all ER staff must complete eight hours of continuing education courses with a trauma focus, as well as demonstrate mandatory competencies.
“We also have a very large multi-disciplinary performance improvement meeting each month that involves the directors/managers from multiple departments including orthopedic and ER providers, hospitalists, and ancillary departments,” says Trauma Program Coordinator Alexandra Malenka, RN, Lehigh Valley Hospital–Hazleton. The group looks at metrics and conducts case reviews to evaluate their progress. “What are we doing well? Where can we improve? This involves a lot of education and involvement from all of these people,” Malenka says.
The center’s relationships with EMS (Emergency Medical Service) and MedEvac providers are essential to the success of the program. Together with the hospital, multiple protocols have been developed to ensure the most critically ill patients are transported rapidly but safely. For instance, since bad weather may ground the MedEvac helicopter, the protocol states that the flight crew can accompany the EMS ground crew to help transfer patients who need critical care transportation.
Knowing when to transfer
Bonfante adds that his medical team can recognize when a patient may require advance resources at Lehigh Valley Hospital–Cedar Crest. The providers and nurses have the training to make those very important decisions. “The realities of medicine are that not every facility is going to have a neurosurgeon or a burn unit or other types of unique procedural care. To think otherwise is not realistic. We want to keep patients here and close to home when we can. We also want to offer specialized care when they need it,” Bonfante says.
Learn more about emergency room and other services at Lehigh Valley Hospital–Hazleton.
He is proud of the lives that have been saved by the center’s team over the last year alone. “Were many of these transferred? Absolutely. Would they have survived had they had to travel farther for their initial and immediate care at another center? Maybe not. I think those patients and their families are pretty happy we are here and were able to provide those critical, time-sensitive services and get them to the next stage of their care. Seeing smiling faces months later is a pretty cool reward for what we do,” Bonfante says.