SSMH Now Certified as Level IV Trauma Center

May 27, 2014

Samuel Simmonds Memorial Hospital (SSMH) has been certified as a Level IV Trauma Center by the State of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS).

A Level IV Trauma Center has demonstrated an ability to provide advanced trauma life support (ATLS) prior to transfer of injured patients to a higher level trauma center. It provides evaluation, stabilization, diagnostic capabilities, 24-hour laboratory coverage, available trauma nurses and ATLS certified physicians available upon patient arrival.

To meet certification requirements, SSMH underwent an intensive review by the DHSS trauma review team; the team uses criteria set by the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma. "We have always believed in providing a high standard of trauma care and by voluntarily allowing experts to review staffing, qualifications, procedures, protocols and resources, we now have objective data that SSMH meets state and national standards for providing timely and optimal care for trauma patients," remarked Jeff Prater, SSMH Hospital Administrator.

SSMH is now the 14th Level IV Trauma Center in the state. The Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage is the only Level II Trauma Center in Alaska, the highest possible since Alaska does not have trauma research and teaching facilities.

Julie Rabeau, Trauma Program Manager and Nurse Consultant II for the DHSS stated, "SSMH has made the commitment to provide optimal trauma care to Barrow and its surrounding communities by voluntarily becoming verified as a Level IV Trauma Center. SSMH provides professional and institutional resources through trauma treatment protocols, equipment, data reporting, and system performance improvement to meet the states strict verification standards." Ms. Rabeau also congratulated SSMH on "becoming the northernmost verified trauma center in the world!"

The path to certification for SSMH started nearly 18 months ago and was led by a multidisciplinary team of local health care professionals and first responders, including SSMH providers and representatives from North Slope Borough emergency medical services, medevac, and fire department personnel.

"This certification is made possible because of our hardworking staff and longstanding partnership with the North Slope Borough," said Marie Carroll, President and CEO of ASNA. "By aligning resources, we have demonstrated our commitment to providing the highest level of trauma care for our North Slope community."

According to the DHSS website, the death rate from unintentional injury is more than 50% higher in rural areas than urban areas and Alaska continues to have the third highest trauma mortality rate in the nation.