A little more than a year after moving to a new home, Creighton University Medical Center-Bergan Mercy has received the nation’s highest certification for trauma care.
CUMC-Bergan Mercy has been verified by the American College of Surgeons as a Level I trauma center, considered the highest standard for trauma center quality and patient care.
Kevin Nokels, the hospital’s president, said Monday that verification is a substantial achievement. “It truly signifies, yes, we are capable and ready 24/7, 365 to care for the most critically injured person that may come through our door,” he said.
The hospital is the second in the state to receive verification. The Nebraska Medical Center received verification late last year.
CUMC-Bergan Mercy was previously designated a Comprehensive Trauma Center by the State of Nebraska, its top certification.
The two hospitals’ trauma centers now are among 132 Level I centers nationwide. There are more than 5,500 hospitals in the United States.
Nokels said the number of people treated by the hospital’s trauma team has increased by more than 50 percent since the trauma center relocated in June 2017 from the former Creighton University Medical Center building at 30th and California Streets to the Bergan Mercy location at 75th Street and Mercy Road.
Nokels said he doesn’t know the reasons behind the increase. But having two Level I trauma centers — now separated by four miles rather than two, as they were before last year’s move — gives emergency responders more latitude in choosing the closest center when transporting patients in critical condition.
Research indicates that treatment of a critically injured person at Level I trauma center reduces the risk of death by 25 percent. Trauma is the leading cause of death in patients ages 1 to 44 in the United States. Each year, trauma injuries kill more people than heart disease, cancer and HIV combined.
For many years, Creighton and the Nebraska Medical Center offered a joint trauma program.
In 2014, the Nebraska Medical Center announced that it would start its own 24-hour, seven-day-a-week program. Creighton then said it would do the same. Both applied for state designation. Creighton’s application initially was denied. The hospital appealed, and the designation was granted in February 2015.
Nokels said the CUMC-Bergan Mercy Level I center is part of a CHI Health trauma program that stretches from Kearney to Council Bluffs. That program includes a Level II trauma center at Good Samaritan in Kearney, Level III trauma centers at St. Francis in Grand Island and Mercy Hospital in Council Bluffs, as well as Lincoln’s St. Elizabeth Regional Medical Center, which operates the only nationally verified burn center in Nebraska.