Hi-Desert Medical Center Gets Trauma Facility Status

The Hi-Desert Medical Center in Joshua Tree has been designated as a level IV trauma facility.
At its November 15 meeting, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors approved a $25,000 annual contract between the Hi-Desert Medical Center and Inland Counties Emergency Medical Agency, conferring the level IV designation, the lowest level of trauma center licensing, on the hospital.
The designation allows Hi-Desert Medical Center staff to evaluate injured patients and initiate treatment if in their professional judgment the care needed falls within the medical center’s capability. In most cases, patients will require a greater degree of treatment than Hi-Desert Medical Center can provide, and the subjects will be transferred to a higher-level trauma center.
The designation allows doctors to stabilize patients before they are transported to a larger hospital.
The Hi-Desert Medical Center is the most comprehensive medical care venue in the neck of the woods involving Twentynine Palms, Joshua Tree, Yucca Valley and the Morongo Basin.Most level IV hospitals are in rural areas, serving as a stopgap in the provision of triage and care within the context of a larger regional trauma system.
The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors doubles as the board for the Inland Counties Emergency Medical Agency, known by its acronym ICEMA, which is responsible for overseeing and regulating emergency medical services in the tri-county regional area of San Bernardino, Inyo, and Mono counties. The Inland Counties Emergency Medical Agency administers California and local regulations governing the provision of emergency medical care at the scene of an emergency and during transport to an acute care hospital.
ICEMA has begun the evaluation of the trauma care performance at the center, including pre-hospital care provider performance, quality improvement programs, field education and medical control protocols. The level IV designation is set to expire on June 30, 2024. The center’s adherence to trauma care standards will need to be reviewed prior to that time for the designation to be renewed.
At present, the Hi-Desert Medical Center is the only hospital in San Bernardino County with level IV status, according to Karen Faulis, the chief executive officer at Hi-Desert Medical Center. Level IV is the lowest/starter level for trauma treatment-capable hospitals in the State of California, with level III, II and I all offering higher levels of services. Despite being at the lowest tier within the trauma-treatment system, achieving the ranking is a breakthrough for Hi-Desert Medical Center, and it requires advanced trauma education for nurses and physicians, as well as mastery of protocols and the use of equipment, all of which was not available there previously. With the designation, some less severely injured patients who arrive there may now be able to stay at the Joshua Tree hospital.

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