Carondelet St. Joseph’s Marks First Year as Level 1 Trauma Center

This week marks the first anniversary of Level 1 Trauma Center designation for Carondelet St. Joseph’s Hospital. In its first year as a state-designated Level 1 Trauma Center, staff at Carondelet St. Joseph’s Hospital have treated thousands of complex injuries, comforted patients and families, and celebrated lives saved.

Level 1 Trauma Center designation for St. Joseph’s Hospital, 350 N. Wilmot Rd., created much-needed additional resources for patients with life-threatening and critical injuries. The Arizona Department of Health Services granted the designation on Sept. 20, 2020.

“With the rapid growth taking place in Southern Arizona there was definitely a need for another Level 1 Trauma Center in Tucson,” said Lori Danko, trauma program director at St. Joseph’s Hospital.

Providing Level 1 Trauma services means Carondelet St. Joseph’s Hospital has numerous specialties available around the clock including orthopedic trauma surgery, neurosurgery, vascular and cardiovascular surgery, general surgery, facial surgery, hand surgery, ophthalmology and plastic surgery, among others, through a comprehensive team of medical specialists and support staff.

St. Joseph’s Hospital invested in dedicated trauma suites with specialty equipment and instruments, and conducts ongoing staff training to support trauma services.

“Successfully launching a new trauma program in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic was an added challenge, but our staff was committed to making it happen,” said Trauma Surgeon Dr. Francis Ali-Osman, medical director for Trauma Services.

Ali-Osman explained that many trauma patients are from motor vehicle accidents, but trauma injury comes in many forms. “Hikers and bicyclists can suffer traumatic injury. Injury can occur at home from falls. And unfortunately, we do see the results of violence in the community. Trauma does not discriminate in who and where it occurs.”

Collaboration, education and outreach are key components of Carondelet’s Level 1 Trauma Center. St. Joseph’s Hospital provides monthly Trauma Grand Rounds, regular webinars and in-person training for its staff as well as the EMS community and other hospital organizations.   

“Our Health Care Collaboration Committee launched in the Spring to help build relationships and communication with our EMS partners and transferring hospitals. “It’s a great opportunity to share training, best practices and how trauma services can help our patients,” said Danko.

St. Joseph’s ability to treat brain and spine, orthopedic and other traumatic injury is a successful integration of specialties throughout the hospital, said Carondelet Market CEO Monica Vargas-Mahar.  “Trauma care may start in the emergency department, but it extends to surgery, diagnostic imaging, ICU and other areas for the advanced level of service provided by a Level 1 Trauma Center.”

Planning for the trauma status began several years ago and is a culmination of preparation, construction, recruitment and collaboration with key stakeholders including physicians, the EMS community, hospital staff and community leaders.

“Carondelet made a significant investment in talent and technology to create the Level 1 Trauma Center at St. Joseph’s Hospital. We appreciate the dedication and efforts of those who worked so hard to assure this advanced level of care is available for residents of our community,” said Vargas-Mahar.

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