UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital now one of the state’s few Level I trauma centers

University of Colorado is the only hospital in a multi-state region with both a Level I trauma designation and a Burn Center verified by the American Burn Association.
Oct. 16, 2018
Portrait of UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital, now one of the state's few Level I Trauma Centers.
UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital is now one of the state’s few Level I Trauma Centers. Photo by UCHealth.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and American College of Surgeons have verified and designated UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital (UCH) on the Anschutz Medical Campus as a Level I trauma center, making it one of only five hospitals in the state with the highest capabilities for trauma care. The Level I distinction recognizes the hospital’s ability to treat the most severe and complex injuries, giving residents of Aurora, metro Denver, eastern Colorado, and the broader Rocky Mountain region rapid access to the most advanced trauma care.

Level I Trauma Care 

  • Level I is the highest trauma center designation.
  • University of Colorado Hospital is home to the only American Burn Association Verified Burn Center in Colorado.
  • University of Colorado Hospital has the largest neurological intensive care unit in the state and is one of the few Comprehensive Stroke Centers.
  • University of Colorado Hospital is home to a full-service orthopedic trauma service and the Limb Restoration Program,dedicated to the treatment of conditions that can put limbs at risk.
  • Nationally recognized surgeons, emergency and trauma physicians from University of Colorado School of Medicine provide expert care for patients

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The hospital received official designation by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment on Oct. 12.

“Earning this Level I designation has taken years of planning and advancements,” said Will Cook, UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital’s president and CEO. “The CU School of Medicine and UCH have recruited some of the nation’s best trauma surgeons, led important research, and improved every aspect of our trauma patient care. This preparation, and the Level I designation, will result in more lives being saved.”

Hospital trauma designations are determined according to established state and national criteria. Key elements required to be a Level I trauma center include around-the-clock coverage by trauma surgeons and prompt availability of the most comprehensive group of specialists in orthopedics, neurosurgery, and anesthesiology, 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 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, falls, and penetrating trauma injuries such as gunshot wounds and stabbings. UCH also serves as a regional referral destination for patients from dozens of hospitals in Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas and Nebraska.“Excellent trauma care depends on a large team of specialists, nurses, surgeons, therapists and support staff. Only by working together can we provide patients with the highest level of care possible,” said Dr. Robert McIntyre, the hospital’s trauma medical director and CU School of Medicine professor.

“Not only are we providing excellent trauma care today, but the research and education we are leading will help define the future of trauma medicine.”

Patients with the most serious burns often include life-threatening trauma injuries as well, and UCH now provides these patients with the most advanced capabilities for both types of injuries.

“As the first and only Burn Center in our region verified by the American Burn Association, University of Colorado Hospital already cares for patients from a multi-state region, providing a comprehensive team approach to care,” said Dr. Anne Wagner, medical director of the Burn Center and associate professor, CU School of Medicine. “Now these patients can benefit from the highest burn and trauma capabilities at the same location.

Dave Repsher, a flight nurse and paramedic, was critically injured and burned when the medical transport helicopter he was flying in crashed in Summit County in July 2015. He was rushed to the Burn Center at UCH where he spent more than a year recovering from his injuries.

“I was flown to University of Colorado Hospital, desperately critical, and subsequently received care from an army of caregivers and staff,” Repsher said. “I spent 397 days in the hospital. I have been seen by over 42 specialties and ancillary services, have had 51 major surgeries and countless procedures, all here at the Anschutz Medical Campus. My recovery is due, in no small part, to having all of the dedicated services and specialties I needed including: burn, trauma and transplant all coordinated and centralized in one location.”