Starting Friday, Carolinas Medical Center is no longer Mecklenburg County’s only trauma center.
Paramedics will begin transporting victims of gunshot wounds and other serious accidents to Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center.
The Hawthorne Lane hospital received approval in June as a “practicing Level II trauma center” from the North Carolina Office of Emergency Medical Services. To qualify for the full designation, Presbyterian must care for 1,200 trauma patients in the next year. During that time, the state agency will evaluate Presbyterian’s physician response times and patient outcomes.
Carolinas Medical Center remains the county’s only Level I, or highest level, trauma center where Medic, the county’s emergency medical service, takes the most serious trauma victims. CMC has had that designation since 1990.
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Three other area hospitals – CMC-NorthEast in Concord, Cleveland Regional Medical Center in Shelby, and CaroMont Regional Medical Center in Gastonia – are Level III trauma centers, which can treat less seriously injured patients.
Before 2013, Presbyterian had been treating some trauma patients transported by Medic, said Phil Angelo, Novant’s regional trauma program manager. But a change in state regulations prohibited Medic from taking trauma patients to any hospital without an official trauma center designation.
Starting Friday, when Medic staff ask patients where they want to be transported, patients can choose between CMC and Presbyterian. If the patient makes no choice, Medic will transport patients to the nearest center.
“We’ve shown that we can take care of those patients,” Angelo said. “This (designation) allows our patients who want to come to our facility to come here.”
Medic will continue to transport some patients to CMC automatically because of the seriousness of their injuries. They include patients with head injuries, extreme burns or amputations. CMC will also receive any pediatric trauma patients.