State review lauds UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central’s strengths, redesignates it as Level I trauma center

Patients and the community have access to the highest-quality and most advanced trauma care without needing to travel to Denver.
April 23, 2019
night shot of hospital
UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central.

Colorado Springs, Colo.  (April 23, 2019) – UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central has been redesignated as a Level I Trauma Center after a two-day onsite visit by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, with reviewers noting multiple strengths, including the hospital’s neurosurgery capabilities and its comprehensive injury prevention program.

Memorial Hospital Central has the distinction of being the only Level I Trauma Center in southern Colorado and one of only five statewide. A Level I designation, which the hospital earned a year ago in April 2018, recognizes the hospital has the ability to treat severe and complex injuries, giving southern Colorado residents rapid access to top-level emergency and trauma care without having to go to Denver.

“Memorial’s expert trauma program has enabled seriously injured patients to stay here in Colorado Springs, close to home, which we know is best for the patients and their family members,” said Joel Yuhas, president and CEO of UCHealth Memorial Hospital. “And over the past year, we have recruited some of the nation’s best trauma surgeons and specialists to provide even more support to the program.”

Hospital trauma designations are determined according to varying criteria, including medical resources and patient volumes. Key elements required to be a Level I Trauma Center include around-the-clock coverage by trauma surgeons and prompt availability of specialists in orthopedics and neurosurgery, among others. Such facilities also must be leaders in trauma prevention and education, conduct research and meet volume requirements for treating severely injured patients.

“The designation of trauma programs in the state of Colorado is more rigorous than at a national level,” said Rochelle Flayter, UCHealth Memorial Hospital’s senior director for Trauma Services. “This reassessment underscores UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central’s commitment to improving the lives of injured patients. The state’s surveyors commented it was one of the strongest programs they have reviewed. Residents of southern Colorado should feel comfortable and proud to have this resource close to home.”

Memorial Central, which houses the state’s busiest emergency department, provided care in 2018 to nearly 110,000 people, with more than 2,500 of them patients who met trauma registry inclusion criteria. The majority of trauma cases involve blunt injuries that are often the result of incidents such as motor vehicle crashes, pedestrians or bicyclists hit by vehicles, or falls and penetrating trauma that includes gunshot or stab wounds.

As part of its trauma program, the hospital recently launched the Memorial Injury Prevention and Research Institute, which seeks not only to research and identify the leading causes of preventable injuries, but also educate the community about them. The four areas of focus for the institute are suicide and violence prevention; pediatric and adolescent injury prevention to include auto and alcohol-related injuries; geriatric fall prevention; and sports/recreation injury prevention, including concussions.

“The redesignation of the Level I trauma program affirms the excellent care and comprehensive services we provide to critically injured patients every day,” said Dr. Thomas Schroeppel, trauma medical director at UCHealth Memorial Hospital. “Since our initial designation in April 2018, we have received patients in transfer emergently from all areas of the state and New Mexico. It is not only a commitment for Colorado Springs, but well beyond our region.”

The Level I designation is just one of the elite designations the hospital has received.

Last month, UCHealth Memorial Hospital became the first in Colorado – and only the 14th nationwide – to achieve the American College of Cardiology’s elite HeartCARE Center designation. The designation is the highest recognition given by the American College of Cardiology (ACC) to hospitals that meet criteria that demonstrate a commitment to providing exceptional cardiovascular care.

Memorial Central also is the only hospital in southern Colorado to be named a Comprehensive Stroke Center, a classification given to programs that offer the highest and most advanced level of stroke care. As the only hospital in the region with multiple teams of neurosurgeons and neuro-interventional physicians on-call 24/7, Memorial has the unique capabilities to quickly and expertly treat every kind of stroke or brain aneurysm. These advanced capabilities are saving lives and improving outcomes for patients because time is crucial in the treatment of stroke. Getting the best care rapidly can lead to a better recovery.

About the author

Cary Vogrin is a media relations specialist for UCHealth. She joined UCHealth in 2015, coordinating media stories and responding to media requests for UCHealth hospitals and clinics in southern Colorado.

Prior to joining UCHealth, Vogrin was a newspaper reporter and editor, having worked at The Fort Dodge Messenger in Fort Dodge, Iowa; The Contra Costa Times in Walnut Creek, California; The Rocky Mountain News in Denver, Colorado; and The Gazette in Colorado Springs, where she covered health care.