By L. Reuven Pasternak, M.D.
Injury is the leading cause of death for all Americans under age 45. When an injury or trauma occurs, having fast access to comprehensive care can be the difference between life and death. Stony Brook Trauma Center was officially verified by the American College of Surgeons (ACS) and designated by the New York State Department of Health as Suffolk County’s only Adult and Pediatric Level 1 Trauma Center earlier this month.
Level 1 Trauma Centers are the highest level centers, capable of providing a full range of services to the most severely injured patients. Stony Brook Trauma Center is also designated by New York State as the Regional Trauma Center (the highest level) for adults and children and serves as Suffolk’s only regional burn center through the Suffolk County Volunteer Firefighters Burn Center at Stony Brook Medicine.
Meeting the strict quality and safety requirements established by the ACS further proves Stony Brook’s standing in the community as a center of excellence, able to offer a full range of medical services and world-class patient care. Patients who are seriously injured by major trauma require immediate attention from a team of medical professionals who are specially trained to recognize and treat immediate threats to life.
Led by Dr. James Vosswinkel, trauma medical director, and Dr. Richard Scriven, pediatric medical director, Stony Brook Trauma Center cares for close to 2,000 patients annually — adults and children, who have sustained blunt, penetrating or thermal traumatic injury. Ninety-five percent of these patients have sustained blunt injuries — the majority from falls or from motor vehicle crashes. Twenty-five percent of the center’s patients are transferred in from one of the county’s 10 other hospitals and every day Stony Brook flight paramedics are on board Suffolk County Police Department helicopters, providing timely and advanced care directly at the scene of an injury.
As a Level I Trauma Center, Stony Brook participates in a national quality program called TQIP (Trauma Quality Improvement Program). In the most recent TQIP report, it was found that patients who were seriously injured and then treated at Stony Brook Trauma Center were much less likely to die or to develop a major complication than patients treated at other TQIP trauma centers.
Stony Brook Trauma Center is committed to not only treating injury but to preventing injury from occurring. The trauma center regularly conducts many community prevention programs in partnership with other local agencies. They include:
Teddy Bear Clinics: These school-based safety programs target the use of booster seats, rear-facing car seats and use of helmets for sports.
Senior Fall Prevention: These community-based programs educate older adults and their families on how to remain independent and safe. Evidenced-based programs, such as Tai Chi, that are designed to build core strength and prevent fall injury are taught.
Traffic Violators: A bimonthly program with the Suffolk County Traffic Court teaches the consequences of risky driving and offers techniques for behavior change.
Bleeding Control for the Injured (B-Con): To help community members cope with public emergency situations, this important program, which is provided at no charge to universities, community groups and schools, teaches key lifesaving skills, including hands-only CPR, tourniquet making and wound treatment.
To learn more about Stony Brook Trauma Center, visit www.trauma.stonybrookmedicine.edu.
L. Reuven Pasternak, M.D., is the chief executive officer at Stony Brook University Hospital and the vice president for health systems at Stony Brook Medicine.