MMMC wins trauma center certification

Maui Memorial Medical Center has been certified as a level 3 trauma center, meeting standards that should improve care and survivability of injured patients, Health Department and hospital officials said.

Dr. Linda Rosen of the state Department of Health said that the hospital is not doing anything new but is handling trauma cases in a more “organized and thoughtful fashion.”

The improvements include having doctors available within a half-hour response time, the ability to open operating rooms more quickly, and improving Blood Bank accessibility for transfusions, said Rosen, chief of the emergency medical services and injury prevention systems branch, last week.

Survivability is “much improved,” she said.

Trauma centers reduce risk of death from injuries by about 25 percent compared to nontrauma center hospitals, Rosen said.

Maui Memorial had been a hospital that took care of trauma cases; the hospital’s new status has put a “focus” on trauma care, she said.

“I think it is good for the hospital,” Rosen said. “It is good for the community.”

There are three levels of trauma centers – level 1 being the highest and level 3 being the lowest. There are no level 1 trauma centers in Hawaii; The Queen’s Medical Center on Oahu has the highest trauma center rating in the state at level 2, Rosen said.

The higher level means that more medical resources are immediately available, such as trauma surgeons and specialists, including plastic surgeons, on duty 24/7 with access to sophisticated medical diagnostic equipment, she said.

To become certified as a trauma center, Maui Memorial had to meet American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma standards and underwent an extensive evaluation by the Trauma Centers Association of America and the state Health Department.

“This award was based on resources and services available, standards of care provided and a statistical review of trauma care and outcomes for a one-year period,” said a hospital announcement of the certification.

Maui Memorial has the second-highest volume of trauma patients in the state, with about 10,000 trauma-related emergency room visits during the 2012-13 fiscal year, the hospital said. About 700 of those patients activated the trauma team or were admitted for their injuries.

The Maui Memorial Emergency Department saw about 42,000 patients in the 2012-13 fiscal year, the hospital said.

“The Trauma Center Association of America survey team was extremely impressed with MMMC’s commitment to better serve the community by achieving their trauma center designation,” said Rosen.

She lauded the work of Anna Marie Later, MMMC’s trauma program manager, and Dr. Arthur Chasen, trauma medical director, in leading the hospital’s effort for certification.

Later said that the certification required cooperation from pre-hospital emergency medical services, to the emergency, nursing, surgical, radiology departments, and to the physicians and other specialty services.

“Trauma care has clearly evolved over the last few years, and we are proud of the services that we are providing to our community,” Later said.

Dr. Les Chun, Maui Memorial’s chief of clinical and medical affairs, said that “quality trauma care requires a never-ending commitment to improve.”

“We’ve come a long way and are dedicated to keep moving forward,” he said. “It’s not about recognition from outside the hospital; it’s about taking care of our ohana.”

* Lee Imada can be reached at