Grant Trauma Team Prepared For Anything That Comes Its Way


UPDATED: Wednesday June 27, 2012 9:58 PM

The Grant Medical Center trauma center never sleeps.

It is because traumatic injury kills more people in the United States, between the ages of 1 and 44, than anything else, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Grant Medical Center, located in the heart of the city, is a Level 1 trauma center and is the busiest adult Level 1 trauma center in the state, 10TV’s Tracy Townsend reported.

According to the New England Journal of Medicine, a trauma center like Grant’s can increase a person’s chance of survival by an estimated 20 to 25 percent.

10TV News’ cameras were allowed “all access” to the trauma center to see first-hand how it functions.

The first stop of the morning was the “hand-off meeting,” in which Trauma Director Doug Paul and his team review and check the statuses of the patients treated during the previous 24-hour shift, Townsend reported.

Paul’s team is made up of experts – a broad range of specialists required in Level 1 trauma center. The team must be ready to handle any kind of case day or night.

More than 200 people are linked to the trauma team at Grant. Surgeons, emergency physicians and anesthesiologists are on duty 24 hours, seven days a week. Specialists are available for quick-access.

The shift’s first admission the day 10TV News shadowed trauma workers was a woman in her 90s who had fallen shortly before 9 a.m. The woman also had other serious health complications.

Though the scene is frenzied, it also is focused, Townsend reported.

Each person plays a part in the real-life drama in which team members rush into specific positions around the patient whenever there’s a trauma call.

“We’re making decisions on the fly, you know,” Paul said. “A lot of medicine is, well, ‘We’re going to order some tests and we’ll figure it out in two weeks.’ You don’t have that with us. It’s right now.’

Paul, who has been in the field for 20 years, thrives on urgency and the teamwork that is required in trauma care, Townsend reported.

He said that he compares his position to that of an orchestra director.

“I’m watching the orchestra, and the monitor is telling me how the music is coming out and if their blood pressure is good, their heart rate’s good, their oxygen saturation is good. Then I can relax. If I see things changing up there, then we’re going into an up tempo pace and we’re figuring out where things are.”

According to trauma staffers, the trauma floor is where staff stops patients from dying. The intensive care unit on the third floor keeps patients living.

As the team remains poised to take on the latest arrival, they also make rounds -- monitoring people who only a day or two before arrived in Grant's trauma center struggling to survive life-threatening injuries.
    
Monitoring patients on the floor can be a precarious balancing act between life and death.  It requires critical care board certified surgeons be ready to operate all the time, Townsend reported.

Critical care nurses said that patient circumstances can be heart-breaking, which makes every day difficult. 

"We're in the trenches together every day and I think we have to be a good support system to each other,” said Ami Robinette, a critical care registered nurse.

A call from the two-way radio in the emergency department cut through the quiet of the mid-day lull.   An air flight nurse-paramedic team would be arriving in a matter of minutes with a patient.

10TV News’ cameras rolled as a well-executed landing and departure plan played out on Grant's helipad.  One trauma patient arrived by a helicopter which quickly departs because a second nurse paramedic team is arriving by Life Flight chopper with another patient.

Forty-six counties in Ohio are covered by Grant Medical Center's trauma department. Air medical transport is often the quickest way to get them to the hospital, day or night.

Harold Gibson of Chillicothe, who fell from the bucket of a cherry picker, arrived by helicopter transport. As the trauma team moved in to assess Gibson, there was concern about a health danger not visible to their eyes -- internal bleeding. 

“His blood pressure dropped is what I was told, so they're looking inside his belly and they'll do a diagnostic peritoneal lavage.  If there’s bleeding they'll take him up to the (operating room),” Robinette said.

About 10 percent of the trauma care happens in the trauma bay -- the rest of it happens in imaging, ICU or in the operating room.   

When it comes to tomorrow, the dawn of a new day at midnight brings to Grant another 10 traumas.  It is a mix of assaults -- one from outside the area in southern Ohio -- motor vehicle accidents, and a gunshot.

Every member of the Grant trauma team said it is a typical round the clock turn. They only allow feelings and emotions to come into play at the end of the shift.

“You make decisions based on your experience and your training and when you're all done, you hope that those decisions are correct,” Paul said.

Doctors at the Grant trauma center treat an average of 12 traumas each day. To be certified as a trauma center, the American College of Surgeons gives a formal examination of a medical center. Grant was a national model for trauma centers in its 2012 re-certification, Townsend reported.

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