Fresno County supervisors approved an agreement Tuesday that will allow Valley Children’s Hospital to become a high-level pediatric trauma center.
By approving the agreement through the Central California Emergency Medical Services Agency, the Madera County hospital will start receiving and treating seriously injured and sick children directly by ambulance and helicopter without having to await transfers from other hospitals.
The so-called Level II designation will be in effect Wednesday through June 30, 2018; the hospital could qualify for unlimited one-year extensions. There is no cost to Fresno County. Supervisors approved the designation with a 5-0 vote.
Valley Children’s Hospital will be the only pediatric trauma center between the Bay Area and Los Angeles.
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It once was a Level II trauma center but lost that designation in 2006 because it was unable to maintain a level of services required by the state.
In 2014, Fresno, Tulare, Kings and Madera counties had 915 patients under age 15 who required an ambulance ride to a local hospital. Of those, about 150 were considered in “critical trauma” – patients who met the criteria for a Level II trauma center, said Dan Lynch, the Emergency Medical Services Agency director for the four-county area.
The change will, for example, keep pediatric patients from Merced County in the Valley. Those patients now often go to trauma centers in Modesto, which transfer them to the Bay Area, Lynch said.
If Valley Children’s Hospital is the nearest trauma center available, it can treat patients who otherwise would have gone to Fresno’s Community Regional Medical Center, he said.
Community Regional is a Level I trauma center, which among other things offers several other surgical specialties on a round-the-clock basis and serves as a teaching and research facility.
About 60 percent of Valley Children’s trauma cases come from other hospitals, said Carlos Flores, a registered nurse and trauma coordinator for the hospital.
The designation will “allow us to receive those most severely injured kids directly from the field either by ground ambulance or helicopter, thus cutting the time to definitive care considerably,” Flores told supervisors.
We believe Valley Children’s has done a really good job bolstering their services to become a really good trauma center.
Dan Lynch, Central California Emergency Medical Services Agency director
Valley Children’s must meet a state minimum requirement for surgical and anesthesiology services, as well as for response times for critical trauma patients.
It was assessed recently by a trauma team from Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego. The team recommended that the local Emergency Medical Services Agency approve Valley Children’s as a pediatric trauma center.
“We believe Valley Children’s has done a really good job bolstering their services to become a really good trauma center,” Lynch said.
In another discussion, supervisors reviewed the progress of plans for the new 300-bed, $88 million West Annex Jail project. Building the facility will allow the county to close the antiquated South Annex Jail, which dates to the 1940s.
Supervisors were told preliminary plans are expected to be approved next week, allowing project bids to move forward. Construction of the four-floor, 118,000-square-foot facility is about a year away. It is to open in late 2019.
An emphasis will be on programs, such as behavioral health, that aim to reduce the number of repeat offenders.
The bulk of the project cost is being paid by the state. In 2014, the Board of State and Community Corrections approved about $79.2 million. The county is paying the remainder.