1,450 patients treated annually, 15,000 since program began in 1998

[caption id="attachment_20963" align="alignright" width="360" caption="Memorial Hospital"][/caption]

SANTA ROSA — An extension of at least eight years for Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital to continue operating as the main level II trauma center in the North Bay took effect this week, a development hospital officials and the county said was “significant” and critical to the needs of the region.

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors voted in March to approve the extension, which includes a provision for renewal after 2018 for an additional four years, giving the hospital a longer-than-average contract that would last through 2022. The contract took effect May 1.

In announcing the extension, Sonoma County Department of Health Services Director Rita Scardaci said, “Trauma care is a key component in the health delivery system,” and Memorial’s designation means “outstanding medical care for critically injured patients” will continue.

Jim Adams, chief operating officer of REACH Air Medical Services and a board member for Memorial, said the length of the contract is unique and underscores the important role that the trauma center plays for the region.

[caption id="attachment_20966" align="alignleft" width="360" caption="REACH air ambulance approaching helipad at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital (Photo courtesy of REACH Air Medical Services)"][/caption]

“Often times you’re seeing designations from five to six years around the state,” he said.

"It’s very significant," Mr. Adams continued. “From my perspective, the county really understands, and the hospital steps up their resources” to accommodate the area's trauma care needs.

Memorial treats an average of 1,450 patients annually who have experienced a serious or life-threatening injury, primarily in Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino counties.

Last year, the hospital saw more than 31,000 outpatient emergency department visits and more than 7,200 admissions, according information provided by Memorial.

With the next closest level II trauma centers in Sacramento and Concord, the role that Memorial’s center plays for the North Bay is critical, Mr. Adams said, noting that Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino and northern portions of Marin as well as parts of Lake counties are all also served by the trauma center in Santa Rosa.

Trauma injuries particularly impact younger people,  Mr.  Adams said. “It’s the one medical emergency that affects people through early teens into their working years.”

According to the hospital, trauma constitutes the highest cause of death among people in their first four decades.

The hospital was first given the designation of a level II trauma center in 2000, and its surgeons have treated more than 15,000 cases since the trauma program began in 1998.