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Southampton Hospital is East End’s first trauma center

Southampton Hospital's designation as a trauma center could

Southampton Hospital's designation as a trauma center could lessen some patients' wait times to get critical care, medical professionals said. Credit: Gordon M. Grant

The state has designated Southampton Hospital a trauma center — the first on the East End — which means patients injured locally won’t automatically be taken to Stony Brook University Hospital.

Time is critical in treating injuries, said Dr. Sampath Subramaniam, Southampton’s trauma medical director.

“Occasionally there have been times when because of weather or traffic, a patient’s clinical status changed [for the worse],” he said, referring to the ambulance or helicopter trip from the East End to Stony Brook. “Now they have the opportunity to be treated right in the community.”

Katrin Diana, emergency medicine nurse manager and trauma coordinator, said being a designated trauma center “will better meet the needs of the patients.”

“This is taking all the resources and putting them into a coordinated program,” she said. “All of the trauma statistics will go into a national database and we’ll be looking at the process and making it better.”

The state Department of Health as of Monday recognized the hospital as a “provisional” Level III trauma center. Trauma centers are ranked I to IV, based on their resources and level of care. Stony Brook is a state-designated Level I trauma center, meaning it has emergency medical doctors and surgeons on staff 24 hours a day and quick access to specialists. A Level III center has 24-hour coverage by emergency medicine doctors and a surgeon available within 30 minutes.

Subramaniam said he believed 90 percent of local trauma cases can be handled at Southampton; only 10 percent need to be transported to Stony Brook. That should also reduce the burden on Stony Brook, he said. Southampton announced in October 2012 that it was allying with Stony Brook, a deal that is still pending.

Southampton’s “provisional” designation has to do with ultimately being certified by the American College of Surgeons. Until recently, the state solely verified trauma centers, but several years ago, it decided to move toward a national verification system overseen by the American College of Surgeons. “The state is currently in a transition period moving toward this new model,” said Dr. James Vosswinkel, chief of trauma surgery at Stony Brook.

The American College of Surgeons’ designation is a several-year process and means that hospitals meet national standards and share data, he said.

But in the meantime, emergency medical teams will now be able to transport trauma victims to Southampton.

“I think this is tremendously positive for the East End,” Vosswinkel said.