Carolinas HealthCare System

Region's Only Level 1 Trauma Center is at Carolinas Medical Center

David Jacobs, MD
Associate Medical Director of Trauma Services for Carolinas HealthCare System

The F.H. “Sammy” Ross Trauma Center at Carolinas HealthCare System’s Carolinas Medical Center was recently recertified by the American College of Surgeons (ACS) and the North Carolina Office of Emergency Medical Services as the region’s only Level 1 trauma center – a distinction that it has held since 1989. David Jacobs, MD, associate medical director of trauma services for the System discussed the significance of having a high-performing Level 1 trauma center available for patients in need of immediate and comprehensive care.

Q: As the regions first and only Level 1 trauma center, what unique services does Carolinas Medical Center bring to patients and to the community?

A: CMC provides immediate access to a trauma system 24 hours a day, 7 days a week that is staffed by a team of board-certified trauma surgeons. What many people do not realize is that a profound difference exists between a trauma system and a trauma center. A comprehensive trauma system is what we have in place at CMC – and that includes MedCenter Air, Medic, Carolinas Trauma Network and our Emergency Department. Another important component of a trauma system involves post-acute care and rehabilitation services. Our ultimate goal is to return patients back to their pre-injury level of functioning, and this can only be achieved through a System. As a trauma center, we offer an abundance of readily available resources that often are quite necessary to address a patient’s immediate needs. This includes a well-stocked blood bank, specially trained orthopedic traumatologists, immediate access to CT, MRI and interventional radiology and in-house radiologists. One component of which we are particularly proud of is our Trauma Operating Room, which is immediately available 24/7/365 to accommodate patients as they arrive to the hospital whenever emergency surgery is required.

Q: How did CMC earn its designation as a Level 1 trauma center in 1989, and how has it upheld this distinction?

A: CMC was given its original designation as a Level 1 trauma center by the American College of Surgeons (ACS) in 1989, and has since been recertified as such every three years. This is the highest level of recognition a trauma center can achieve. Every three years, the ACS raises its standards, and conducts a robust site visit, during which an institution is evaluated for, among other things, its process improvement (PI) program. CMC has acted accordingly to meet and exceed these standards, and has been singled out by the ACS for its “exemplary” PI program and method of delivering care.

Q: What is the significance of being recognized as a Level 1 trauma center, and what separates CMC from other trauma centers in the region?

A: At CMC, we treat many patients who come to us from other Level II or Level III centers in the region that don’t have the resources or capacity to handle the severity of their case. Aside from the comprehensive treatment and care we offer, our research and outreach programs are what truly distinguish us as a Level 1 trauma center. A Level 1 trauma center must not only be fully prepared to care for the most serious of injuries, but must also be actively engaged in cutting-edge trauma research and educational outreach. Our training programs in emergency medicine and orthopedics are among the most competitive in the country and we also provide advanced training in trauma to physicians at all levels, nurses and pre-hospital providers. At the same time, we are actively involved in outreach efforts to reduce injuries in patients of all ages, from infants and toddlers to our most senior citizens. In this way, we truly provide the spectrum of trauma care, from prevention all the way through rehabilitation.

Learn more about what it means to be a Level 1 Trauma Center