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NMCCL Stories

News | March 4, 2022

Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune earns reverification as a level III trauma center

By Michelle Cornell

Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune has earned reverification as a Level III Trauma Center by the American College of Surgeons’ Committee on Trauma. This achievement recognizes NMCCL’s dedication to providing optimal care for injured patients.

“Reverification as a trauma center means not only have we excelled at the level we were when we were first given the trauma status, but we have shown growth and change from that point,” said U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Douglas M. Pokorny, trauma center director. “They have essentially given their stamp saying that we have exceeded all the expectations of the American College of Surgeons to be a trauma center so that we may continue to do so and may continue to grow.”

Since the original designation as a Level III trauma center in 2018, NMCCL continues to make positive contributions in the military and civilian community. NMCCL is the only Navy military treatment facility in the nation to provide trauma care to a local community; over 60 percent of trauma activations are non-military patients. Staff actively participate on many state and community trauma and emergency medical services committees and work closely with other trauma centers to increase the emergent care available. The number of trauma activations increased from 163 in 2018 to 1,532 activations in 2021 with NMCCL receiving patients from Onslow County and five adjacent counties.

“Having a trauma center located in Onslow County gives the patient with a traumatic injury immediate access to care locally,” adds Pokorny. “Prior to us, there were patients who were significantly injured, but didn’t necessarily require a level I or level II trauma center, who used to get flown from scene when they could have been treated locally.”

In order to earn reverification from the American College of Surgeons, trauma centers must meet specific criteria and reevaluated every three years. In order to receive full designation, the NMCCL Trauma Center must also receive designation by the state of North Carolina.

According to the ACS Committee on Trauma, the verification program, “provides confirmation that a trauma center has demonstrated its commitment to providing the highest quality trauma care for all injured patients. The actual establishment and the designation of trauma centers is the function of local, regional, or state health care systems agencies.”
State representatives also took part in the reevaluation process along with ACS. Formal notification of designation from the North Carolina Office of Emergency Medical Services is expected in July.

NMCCL’s trauma program supports multiple educational opportunities focusing on injury prevention, a point of criteria for trauma center verification. Trauma team members are actively engaged in the ‘Stop the Bleed’ program, instructing more than 6,000 community members how to apply tourniquets and pack wounds in the event of a traumatic injury.

In addition, NMCCL’s Trauma Center is the only military facility that is part of the Trauma Survivors Network which provide resources for trauma survivors and their families, aiding in the rehabilitation process. The NMCCL trauma center hosted their inaugural Trauma Survivor’s Day last April.

“To be a state-designated trauma center and verified by the ACS means we have established ourselves in the state as a trustworthy hospital, but that we are also functioning at the highest level,” Pokorny said. “This [designation and reverification] gives us the chance to grow. Without the ACS backing, it’s hard to grow to a greater level.”

Part of the growth forward is pursuing eventual Level II trauma center designation. NMCCL’s Commander and Director, U.S. Navy Captain Reginald Ewing, says the medical center has been slated by the Defense Health Agency to pursue Level II trauma center designation. Ewing believes this investment in NMCCL’s future as a trauma center will broaden subspecialty care while increasing readiness of the military medical force.

“This recommendation is in recognition of the high quality trauma care that our Medical Center currently provides and of the need in our community for increased availability of trauma services,” said Ewing. “The growth of our program will involve investment of resources to add neurosurgical and other surgical capabilities to our medical center and increase our critical care, operative, and inpatient ward capacity to allow us to decrease the need to transfer critically injured patients to high level centers outside of the immediate local area.”

As the NMCCL Trauma Center evolves, its leadership wants community members to know that above all the team’s steadfast goal is to provide high quality, life-saving care.

“We are here, always standing by,” Pokorny said. “You are guaranteed the same care every hour of the day, every day of the week. You can rest easy knowing if you are injured in our vicinity we will be here waiting before you arrive at our facility.”
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