Review team recommends JCMC maintain Level I trauma designation

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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — The region’s only Level 1 trauma center received high marks in a recent review by state health officials.

Last month, a team from the Tennessee Department of Health performed a site visit at Johnson City Medical Center for re-verification of the hospital’s Level 1 trauma designation. The site team determined that the hospital continues to meet the requirements of a Level I trauma center and recommended the hospital continue to hold that designation.

“Johnson City Medical Center has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to care for the injured patient,” a site review report states. “The hospital administration has shown significant support of this endeavor and the institution and trauma program have made investments and changes resulting in significant growth over the last four years.”

The site review team found no deficiencies in the hospital’s trauma program. Ballad Health says that’s a first for trauma care in the region.

“Prior to the effort to create a regional and coordinated system of trauma care, which was implemented nearly two years ago, neither of the region’s Level I trauma centers were able to achieve surveys with zero deficiencies, and the region did not have a coordinated single trauma system,” Ballad Health stated in a release. “This was due to a replication of services, which experts cited as not being a best practice. The hospitals were routinely cited for a lack of coordination and inadequate availability of specialties required for immediate call to serve the needs of patients.”

Johnson City Medical Center became the region’s only Level I trauma center when Ballad consolidated trauma care by downgrading Holston Valley Medical Center in Kingsport from Level I to Level 3. Bristol Regional Medical Center’s trauma facility was moved from Level 2 to Level 3. The change was highly controversial.

Some of the accomplishments listed in the site review team’s report include:

  • “Excellent” response times to trauma activations
  • 24/7 coverage of required surgical specialties
  • Appropriate Intensive Care Unit nurse ratios with immediate access to laboratory services and imaging
  • Consolidation of the air-medical transport service and centralization of trauma traffic coordination in a single Ballad Health Command Center
  • Significant growth in community outreach and injury prevention
  • Significant increase in research publications

The report also praises the trauma program’s medical director, Dr. J. Bracken Burns. “He has demonstrated significant dedication to the program, as well as a vision which has helped the program to grow and improve,” the report states.

The Tennessee Department of Health says the recommendation for recertification will be presented to the Board for Licensing Health Care Facilities on October 5.

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