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Brooke Army Medical Center marks robust year for civilian trauma care

  • Published
  • By Elaine Sanchez

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- The numbers are telling when it comes to Brooke Army Medical Center's robust trauma care mission. 

Over the past year, the Level I Trauma Center in central San Antonio delivered care to more than 4,000 trauma patients, including 750 burn patients, throughout Southwest Texas, the hospital's top surgeon said. Of these patients, about 85 percent were from the civilian sector and 14 percent were military beneficiaries. 

Blunt injuries from car accidents or other causes were most common source of trauma, comprising about 85 percent of the traumatic mechanisms. The remaining 15 percent had penetrating wounds from a gunshot or stabbing. 

With a resultant 800-plus operations, BAMC's multidisciplinary Trauma Division was bustling over the past year, said Air Force Col. Patrick Osborn, Deputy Commander for Surgical Services. 

"Our team of active duty and civilian health care professionals provide exceptional care to every patient who walks through our doors," he noted. 

Numbers aside, as the only Level I Trauma Center in the Defense Department and one of two in San Antonio, BAMC serves an important role on both a local and global level, Osborn said.

"We not only are serving our community with trauma care, but also are serving our Nation by ensuring our military health care professionals are equipped with the skills needed to serve around the world at a moment's notice," he said. 

A Level I designation signifies the highest level of trauma care, Osborn explained. BAMC's state designation also has been verified by the American College of Surgeons, which confirms the presence of resources required to be considered Level I. "A Level I Trauma Center is capable of providing total care for every aspect of injury -- from prevention to rehabilitation," according to the American Trauma Society. The ACS re-verified BAMC as a Level I center last year.

BAMC receives traumatically injured patients through a written agreement with Bexar County Hospital District. The Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council, or STRAC, coordinates the region's trauma care, ensuring patients are transported to a health facility that will best meet their treatment needs. BAMC also works closely with its local Level I trauma partner, University Health System, throughout the process, Osborn explained. 

"We partner with STRAC and UHS to serve citizens of 22 counties in Southwest Texas, covering over 26,000 square miles," he said. 

BAMC's relationship with its local partners extends far beyond patient care. The hospital also works with local, state and national organizations on prevention efforts. 

In the past year, for example, BAMC trained more than 1,700 people in basic bleeding control techniques using the Department of Homeland Security's Stop the Bleed course, explained Gina Pickard, BAMC's trauma division manager. Stop the Bleed is intended to encourage bystanders to become trained, equipped and empowered to help in a bleeding emergency before professional help arrives, according to the DHS website.

"We have been introducing the technique in schools, large businesses and law enforcement," Pickard said. "We are currently working with a local school district to teach employees how to stop bleeding."

Additionally, BAMC offers a monthly class on fall prevention to prevent this common cause of injury among the elderly. 

These are just a few of the hospital's prevention efforts. BAMC will continue to strive to make the community better in the years to come, noted BAMC Commanding General Brig. Gen. George Appenzeller. 

"We are honored to serve the San Antonio and surrounding communities," the general said. "And we are proud to serve our nation as a premier readiness platform for our military medical personnel."