Traumatic Brain Injury

St. Mary's Legacy of Trauma and Stroke Care

If you receive a major traumatic injury, your chances of survival improve greatly if you receive definitive treatment in the first 60 minutes.

The same concept applies to strokes; stroke patients who receive treatment in the first hour have the best chance for surviving and preventing disability.

Dr. Donald Trunkey, an academic trauma surgeon, calls this the Three R Rule: "Getting the right patient to the right place at the right time."

This means that more severely injured patients may be taken past a hospital with an emergency department to reach a trauma or stroke center.

In northern Palm Beach County, St. Mary’s Medical Center proudly offers a higher level of emergent care.

St. Mary’s Medical Center serves as a Florida Department of Health Level I Trauma Center, a state-designated Pediatric Trauma Referral Center and a state-designated Brain and Spinal Cord Acute Care Injury Center.

With more than 20 years of experience as a trauma center, St. Mary’s has brought together experts in nursing, trauma surgery, neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery and other specialties to manage the most complicated injuries.

In addition to the Trauma Center, St. Mary’s Medical center is one of the 21 hospitals in Florida, and one of only two in Palm Beach County, designated as a Comprehensive Stroke Center by the Florida Agency of Healthcare Administration.

What is a Trauma Center?

Trauma centers have the specially trained medical personnel along with advanced diagnostic and treatment equipment needed to treat people with the most severe injuries.

Trauma centers are classified by the level of care they provide: Level IV (lowest) to Level I (highest).

Both Level I and Level II trauma centers offer the immediate availability of trauma surgeons, anesthesiologists, physician specialists, nurses, and resuscitation equipment that are needed to treat critically injured patients.

Advanced Care: Trauma

Twenty-four hours a day, as many as 16 medical staff specialties must be available within the hospital or on-call and able to reach the hospital within a certain time frame.

These specialties may include:

  • Trauma surgery
  • Anesthesiology
  • Orthopedic surgery
  • Thoracic (chest) surgery
  • Neurosurgery
  • Ophthalmology
  • Cardiac surgery
  • Critical care medicine
  • Radiology

These physicians complete trauma education and other continuing education programs.

Nurses and other health care personnel in a trauma center also receive advanced training to care for the most critically injured patients.

Hospitals with trauma center designations also offer advanced surgical capabilities and critical care units that provide constant treatment and monitoring of severely injured patients.

The Trauma Center at St. Mary’s takes pride in its Trauma After-Care Clinic, providing specialized care with a dedicated team of trauma surgeons, nurse practitioners, and registered nurses.

The patients are followed in the trauma clinic until they reach maximum medical improvement, and are released from care by the trauma surgeon.

Advanced Care: Stroke

The multidisciplinary team at the Comprehensive Stroke Center at St. Mary’s has received specialized training in acute and ongoing management of stroke patient and caregiver needs.

The team is comprised of interventional neurologist, ER physicians, ICU, Step Down Unit, telemetry and rehab, nursing, lab, nutrition, pharmacy, physical, occupational and speech therapy, quality; radiology and respiratory; and special procedures.

The stroke team strives to provide quality care in the management of stroke patients throughout the continuum of care along with patient and family education for management of secondary risk factors and stroke prevention.

The Comprehensive Stroke and Trauma Centers at St. Mary’s are two of many critical services the hospital has added over the course of its 75-year history. Although more than seven decades have past, St. Mary’s vision is still the same.

The hospital looks forward to growing and working to keep St. Mary’s Medical Center one of the best healthcare facilities in South Florida.

Featured in Florida Weekly.