Featured, from left: Carlos García-Cantú, MD, Director of Surgery, DHR Health; Manish Singh, MD, Chief Executive Officer, DHR Health; Kenneth L. Mattox, MD, Distinguished Service Professor, Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Baylor College of Medicine, Chief of Staff and Surgeon-in-Chief, Ben Taub Hospital, Houston; Ronald M. Stewart, Chair, Department of Surgery, UT Health Science Center, San Antonio; Raúl Barreda, MD, Trauma Medical Director, DHR Health; and Ricardo Martínez, MD, Assistant Medical Director, General Surgery, DHR Health on Wednesday, May 1, 2019 at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance.
Photograph Courtesy DHR HEALTH
DHR Health is now functioning as a Level I Trauma Center
By REANNON C. RAMOS
As of Wednesday, May 1, 2019, DHR Health is functioning as a Level 1 Trauma Center.
Victims of trauma will no longer be required to travel outside of the Rio Grande Valley to receive highly specialized surgical care for serious injuries. Functioning as a Level 1 Trauma Center, DHR Health is capable of providing the community with complete and comprehensive care for every aspect of an injury – from prevention to rehabilitation.
Being a geographically isolated region has led to thousands of people leaving the Rio Grande Valley for medical services, especially those related to traumatic injuries. Over the years, significant numbers of Valley residents have been transferred to trauma centers in larger cities either by helicopter or by ambulance, some as far as 230 miles away, to receive the life-saving care they critically need.
“The Rio Grande Valley is a rapidly expanding area in Texas and as healthcare providers it is our mission to meet the ever expanding medical needs of our community,” said Dr. Manish Singh, DHR Health’s Chief Executive Officer. “Our goal is to grow with our community and bring the medical services that are lacking. Now functioning as a Level 1 Trauma Center means are patients will no longer need to leave to San Antonio or Houston, DHR Health will be the place to receive the best trauma care in South Texas.”
Hospital trauma designations are determined according to state and national criteria.
For a Level I Trauma Center, some of the key elements include 24/7 coverage by trauma surgeons and prompt availability of comprehensive specialists.
The Texas Department of Health and Human Services provides the designation of trauma centers.
These centers are verified by the American College of Surgeons (ACS) to ensure they meet essential criteria established by their Committee on Trauma. The American College of Surgeons verification provides confirmation that a trauma center is providing the highest quality of trauma care. DHR Health is in preparation for an ACS visit for verification as a Level 1 Trauma Center.
“DHR Health has been at the forefront of trauma care in the Rio Grande Valley for many years now. Functioning as a Level 1 Trauma Center has now raised the standard of trauma care,” said Dr. Raúl Barreda, Trauma Medical Director at DHR Health. “The coordination of care from our team allows us to provide the highest level of trauma care available at a moment’s notice.”
DHR Health leaders said it is their commitment to constantly expand the medical services and specialties throughout the Rio Grande Valley. They have been working to advance the trauma services since DHR Health we first opened its trauma center in 2012 as a Level IV Trauma Center.
During that time, DHR Health has seen and treated about 10,000 trauma patients.
As a functioning Level 1 Trauma Center, we have 24/7 in-house coverage by general/trauma surgeons, and on-site specialists in areas such as orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, radiology, emergency medicine, internal medicine and critical care.
DHR Health and their trauma team will also serve as a healthcare leader in prevention and public education to surrounding communities.
DHR Health’s functioning as a Level I Trauma Center offers the community a specialized, comprehensive team to care for patients who suffer traumatic injuries from causes such as motor vehicle crashes, gunshot wounds, crush injuries and falls. The emergency department at DHR Health is the primary entry point for most patients, they are evaluated and stabilized in its designated trauma area before getting transferred to a different area of the hospital to receive additional medical care.
DHR Health has received trauma patients from all across South Texas, including Brownsville, Rio Grande City and Falfurrias.
“From a broad regional perspective, the commitment to a Level I Trauma program and network, provides the infrastructure and network for an effective responsive disaster program,” said Dr. Kenneth Mattox, Chief of Staff and Surgeon-in-Chief at Baylor College of Medicine. “Not only does the trauma program provide the foundation for this integrated response for disaster, but that same regional network positively affects the regional responses to stroke, acute heart attack, burns, high risk obstetrics, sepsis, acute mental health problems and many other acute medical challenges. It is the Level One trauma centers that are responsible for regional educational and preventative public programs and health services research. “
Recently, DHR Health received the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® as a Comprehensive Stroke Center — the only hospital south of San Antonio to achieve this certification from the Joint Commission — and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Heart-Check mark for Advanced Certification for Comprehensive Stroke Center.
This is the highest designation a hospital can achieve in stroke care. With these certifications, DHR Health joins an elite group of hospitals that can provide highly-specialized stroke care. There are fewer than 30 hospitals across the state of Texas currently designated as comprehensive stroke centers.
With the establishment of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) and the UTRGV School of Medicine, DHR Health has become the primary teaching site for their residency programs.
DHR Health is home to nine residency and fellowship training programs, including general surgery. Functioning as a Level I Trauma Center provides these residents will the experience of working with severe trauma cases and prepare them to become future staff at all local trauma centers.
“The establishment of a Level I trauma center will expand options for trauma patients in the Valley, and allows our surgery residents valuable experience with the care of complex trauma patients”, said Dr. John Krouse, Dean of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine.
SEN. HINOJOSA AND REP. HERRERO PASS THE SERVICE MEMBER AND VETERAN OPEN BURN PIT REGISTRY ACT
On Thursday, May 2, 2019, Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, passed House Bill 306 by Rep. Abel Herrero, D-Robstown, out of the Texas Senate.
Also known as the Service Member and Veteran Open Burn Pit Registry Act, the bill would provide outreach, education, and awareness for military veterans facing health issues after exposure to open burn pit smoke and other airborne hazards.
“The Service Member and Veteran Open Burn Pit Registry will facilitate outreach, education, and advocacy related to health concerns and diseases suffered by our soldiers and veterans as a result of exposure to toxic fumes,” said Hinojosa. “We must provide this tool to get a better understanding of the impact and consequences of this exposure to be able to better support those who served our country. I appreciate Rosie and Leroy Torres for their tireless commitment to this effort and for sharing their story with our legislators.”
In military conflicts since the First Gulf War, open burn pits were used to dispose of chemicals, munitions, and medical waste, exposing service members to dangerous toxins. Unfortunately, the long-term health effects from burn pit smoke are still not fully understood. In addition, there is no federal or state outreach effort to provide service members who may have resulting health problems with information on how to get assistance.
“Veterans who bravely fought for our country, only to develop debilitating illnesses when they came home, deserve answers and proper medical treatment,” said Herrero. “This legislation takes the initiative to facilitate critical awareness and outreach to veterans and their families feeling the devastating effects of exposure to open air burn pits. We must stand with our veterans in this war that has followed them home.”
The Service Member and Veteran Open Burn Pit Registry would help medical researchers track changes in health and get our veterans the benefits and information they and their families deserve.
Paul Townsend contributed to this article. For more information, please contact Roberto Haddad, Vice President and Counsel for Government Affairs and Policy at DHR Health, or Jesse Ozuna, Government Affairs Officer at DHR Health, at 956/362-7165. For more on this and other Texas legislative news stories which affect the Rio Grande Valley metropolitan region, please log on to Titans of the Texas Legislature (TitansoftheTexasLegislature.com).