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Lee Health Trauma Center marks Silver Anniversary
April 17, 2019

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The 9-1-1 call comes in, and emergency personnel are dispatched to victims in a car crash, or to someone who has fallen off a ladder, or to a bicyclist struck by a car. The arriving emergency medical technicians (EMT) and paramedics assess the situation and their patients, tend to the casualties, begin treatment, and decide on patient transport to a hospital or trauma center - all within 10 minutes of their arrival. The first 10 minutes during which EMTs make critical treatment and transport decisions are known as the "platinum ten." In turn, the "platinum ten" leads to the "golden hour" - those precious minutes after a critical injury when someone needs timely care to increase their odds of survival, and chances to return home with the quality of life.

For 25 years, team members with the Trauma Center at Lee Memorial Hospital have jumped into action at a moment's notice to treat victims of trauma, the leading cause of death among Floridians younger than age 44. Since opening in 1994, the center has treated more than 42,000 injured patients.

"Getting the right level of care in the right amount of time promotes good outcomes," said Michael Marcus, RN, trauma program manager, in a prepared statement.

Marcus, who joined the Trauma Center in 1996, said the center received relatively few trauma alerts in its early years. However, Southwest Florida's population boom across the five counties the trauma center serves - Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Glades, and Hendry - now generates more than 2,500 trauma alerts annually. It remains the only trauma center between Sarasota and Miami.

The Trauma Center provides access to the increased trauma care in the growing region because it functions as an integrated system of care, Marcus said.

"Our trauma center is the central part of our communities' steadfast commitment to preventing injury, responding quickly when it does occur, assure access to comprehensive services, and provide rehabilitation and reintegration back to the community," Marcus said. "Our goal is to keep you from becoming injured, and if you do, get you back to doing what you were always able to do."

Trauma Medical Director Jose Diaz, M.D., said, "The center relies on a big span of services known as the trauma continuum. It begins with the dispatchers, first responders, paramedics, pilots, flight nurses, and mechanics. Here at the hospital, we are a system of trauma-trained specialty talent that is ready 24/7 to treat complex and life-threatening injuries in our community."

The Trauma Center is a safety net for the communities of Southwest Florida.

"Traumatic injury is not something people or families plan for when going about their day," Marcus said.

Exceptional trauma care relies on an optimally functioning trauma system, requiring a coordinated, multidisciplinary approach:

- 24/7 in-house coverage by a trauma surgeon

- 24/7 access to specialty and non-specialty surgeons and physicians

- 24/7 on-call neurosurgeons

- 24/7 on-site anesthesia provider, surgical services team and trauma-trained nurses

After patients are stabilized, their continuum of care is the responsibility of the trauma center staff until they are released from the trauma center.

Lee Health's Level 2 Trauma Center is in the Lee Memorial Hospital at 2776 Cleveland Ave., Fort Myers.

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